Chukar numbers rebounding

THURSDAY, SEPT. 3, 2009, 9:53 A.M.

Idaho surveys offer encouraging news for hunters

Idaho’s chukar partridge population appears to be on the rebound, according to recently conducted surveys by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Harsh winters, drought and untimely spring storms have combined to cause the species’s population to plummet in the past two years. The birds live in the dry canyonlands and breaks including southwest Idaho north through Hells Canyon and the Snake River breaks of southeastern Washington.

Idaho wildlife managers had predicted it could take years for the chukar population to recover.

However, wildlife biologist Jake Powell says hunters should be encouraged by agency aerial surveys that counted nearly 900 of the birds in the highlands along Brownlee Reservoir in central Idaho last month.

Powell says about 73 chukars per square mile were found at the survey area, which is almost double the number counted last year and the largest amount recorded since 2005.

Washington no longer conducts aerial chukar surveys.

General hunting seasons for chukars open Sept. 19 in Idaho and Oct. 3 in Washington.

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