By Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota wildlife officials say the state’s pheasant population is rebounding from a devastating drought three years ago, though hunters will still need to search for hot spots.

Roadside surveys conducted in late July and August indicate pheasant numbers are up from last year, along with sharp-tailed grouse and gray partridge, according to the state Game and Fish Department. The data is based on 275 survey runs made along 100 brood routes across the state, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

“We had good residual cover to start the year, and good weather for nesting and brood-rearing,” upland game biologist RJ Gross said. “There were some areas that experienced abnormally dry periods throughout the summer, but nesting appeared to be successful.”

Pheasant hunting thrived in North Dakota in the early 2000s, helped by plenty of Conservation Reserve Program acres in the state. CRP land has dwindled as farmers have put idled grassland back into crop production.

Gross said local populations of pheasants are building back up from the 2017 drought, “but they are not at the point yet of spreading out into new territories.” Hunters will need to find “localized hot spots” of pheasants, he said.

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