From past drought to harsh winters, how the pheasant population is keeping up

Pheasant(Photo: courtesy of Mike Anderson, ND Game and Fish)
Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 3:37 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The 2020 drought was really damaging to the state’s pheasant population, but if you’ve driven a bit out of town recently, there is a good chance you’ve seen large flocks of the birds.

Pheasants have made a permanent home in North Dakota and are one of the most sought-after small game targets for local hunters. Pheasant numbers have risen, but with such an early and harsh winter this year, it could spell trouble for the population.

“The winter started fairly early, I mean, I know it’s North Dakota, but an early November start is never a good thing because our winter can last into May, it has before,” says Rodney Gross, the upland game biologist at North Dakota Game and Fish.

While snow can be helpful to grow shelter and food for pheasants, too long of a freezing period will cause the population to decrease. Pheasants do well at staying warm, but the longer the cold lingers, the greater the chances they may run out of shelter.