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LETTER: Habitat not driving pheasant numbers

To the Editor:

I started hunting in the late 1940s when I was about 11. That year, we had pheasants like you wouldn’t believe.

Since then, numbers have gone up and down. You will never convince me that loss of habitat is the prime reason. During the early years I hunted, farms didn’t produce much habitat.

Back then, hunting wasn’t controlled by the GF&P like it is today. People knew how to keep things in balance. Fur traders had a market, and we hunted coyote, skunk and shot each wild cat.

Finger-pointers say high grain prices created high farmland values, forcing farmers to maximize their production and destroy areas birds called home. However, I believe it was Mother Nature and predators.

One of the most prolific places for a pheasant to survive is along railroad tracks. Plenty of vegetation, grainfields and wetlands for hatching and growing. The only thing that could destroy the number of pheasants in those areas would be predators and Mother Nature.

A Daily Republic editorial said the GF&P killed about 22,067 coyotes in a recent four-year span. Wake up: Those animals ate a lot of meat. Ranchers say during calving season, coyotes will wait until a cow gives birth and then use afterbirth as a food supply.

During a period in June 2010, nearly 7 inches of rain fell. What do those finger-pointers think that did to a large number of adult birds? How many nests and hundreds of chicks destroyed? We have had some weather during the winter that has taken its toll also, so Mother Nature puts our pheasant numbers to the test every year.

If we can get Mother Nature to cooperate during the winter, plus have a good hatching season and a summer that doesn’t get too hot and dry, numbers will grow. I just hate to see agriculture being the target. Finger-pointers would like to blame them, but they already do so much to provide a place for hunters to enjoy themselves. I feel when Mother Nature cooperates for a few years, those bird numbers will climb again.