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LETTER: Pheasant population drop tied to 'intensive' farming

To the Editor:

I read with great interest the story "Pheasant boom headed to bust?" As a resident of Nebraska, but born in South Dakota, I was staying in Mitchell recently to hunt pheasants with my nephew, who is just learning to hunt and has yet to harvest a pheasant. I was very disappointed to read the comments made by Lisa Richardson, executive director of the South Dakota Corn Growers. As a wildlife biologist, I can state with absolute confidence that pheasants do not nest in cornfields and do not survive South Dakota blizzards in corn stubble. Grasslands are needed for nesting and brood rearing. Cattail cover in wetlands provides good winter cover. To suggest the loss of wetlands and grasslands will have no impact on pheasant populations, as Ms. Richardson did, is ridiculous.

Why do residents of Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and elsewhere come to South Dakota to hunt pheasants? Because, in those states, intensive farming has all but eliminated pheasant habitat and pheasants. That's why we go to South Dakota. I appreciated Lyle Perman's more realistic analysis of the situation. Nobody can blame landowners for wanting to increase their bottom line. But let's at least admit the truth. The future outlook for pheasant populations is not good and the huge economic impact that pheasant hunting has in South Dakota is going to suffer.