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South Dakota pheasant survey reveals 64 percent drop

According to a Friday news release by the South Dakota State Game, Fish & Parks Department, statewide pheasant numbers have dropped 64 percent from last year to this year.

The GF&P estimated the state to have about 7.6 million pheasants last year. With the estimated 64 percent drop, that means there’s an estimated 4,864,000 statewide now, although the latter estimate was made independently by The Daily Republic and is not an official GF&P statistic.

“There really can’t be a single factor that can cause a decline that severe,” said Travis Runia, GF&P’s lead pheasant biologist. “There’s definitely a combination of negative factors over the past year.”

Ruina said months of persistent drought in 2012, a cold, wet spring in 2013 and a reduction in habitat have impacted pheasant brood counts.

The GF&P found during its pheasant brood survey results a statewide drop from 4.19 birds per mile to 1.52. During the annual brood count, 12 of the 13 areas statewide saw pheasant-per-mile numbers dip. The largest drop came in the Chamberlain area, which had a pheasant-per-mile index of 10.81 last year and is at 2.66 this year. The Winner area also saw a major decrease, holding a 7.35 pheasant-per-mile index last year to 2.00 this year. Mitchell’s route went from 3.91 last year to 1.77 this year.

This story will be updated when a more complete version is available.