NORTH IOWA OUTDOORS: Area Winter is Tough on Fowl Populations

It was the snowiest February on record for several Iowa communities and it’s been a harsh winter, especially for wildlife. Todd Bogenschutz, an upland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says snowfall, just this past month, equals what we often get from December through March. There were some warm-ups, he says, but not enough.

Pheasant and quail populations will most certainly take a tumble this winter, he says, as it’s difficult for them to survive in these unforgiving conditions.

Pheasant hunting seasons in Iowa run from late October through early January and this past season drew between 50- and 60-thousand hunters.

As the birds scrounge for food farther from their nests, they’re facing longer exposure to the bitter cold, plus, the brown pheasants are against a white background, making them more obvious to predators.

While southwest Iowa has enjoyed a multi-year run of record quail populations, the heavy snow and ice will likely mark an end to that, he says. Bogenschutz predicts significant declines in the pheasant and quail populations this coming year, adding, this is easily the toughest winter in five years.