September 28, 1995

Rain Puts Idaho Birds In Jeopardy

From Staff And Wire Reports
 

Idaho’s upland bird and forest grouse populations are lower than they were the last few years, state Fish and Game Department biologists say.

Quail may be an exception. The birds hatch over an extended period and thus aren’t as susceptible to early June rainstorms and low temperatures as are the bigger birds.

The forest grouse season opened Sept. 1 and the partridge and quail seasons were opened Sept. 16. The last of the upland bird seasons, those for ringneck pheasants, will open Oct. 14 in the Panhandle and Oct. 21 in the rest of Idaho.

Like grouse and partridges, pheasants didn’t do well in the Panhandle during the nesting season. Rainstorms, coupled with low temperatures, killed most chicks. As a result, pheasant hunting will range from poor to fair in the top habitat areas.

Best pheasant hunting in North Idaho is in Nez Perce, Benewah and Latah counties.

Montana

Rain on the eastern Montana prairie can be a good thing for upland birds - but not rain, rain and more rain.

Persistent rains during the weeks of early summer translates into chilled and dead grouse broods and that’s exactly what some biologists fear happened this year in many parts of eastern Montana.

Wildlife biologists say opportunities are spotty for good hunting for the 1995 Montana upland bird hunting season. The season opened Sept. 1 for sage grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian and chuckar partridge, mourning doves, turkeys and blue, spruce and ruffed grouse hunting.

If there’s a sad side to the upland bird story this year, it’s that the state appeared poised to finally enjoy some improved bird numbers.

Hunters had endured a 36-year harvest low in 1993 for sage grouse and sharptails. Rains in 1994 had provided a little boost in bird numbers and good residual cover for the birds to nest in this spring.

Spring breeding ground counts for sharptails were even up a bit and sage grouse appeared to be holding their own.

But then the June rains came and stayed in much of central and south-central Montana.

“The sharptails on the prairie had a hard time making a go of it between weather events,” explained Graham Taylor, wildlife manager for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks at Great Falls.

, DataTimes

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