The weather was wet and cold for last weekend’s opening of the pheasant season in southern Idaho, but hunters say they saw more birds than the year before.
In the Southeastern Region, biologists reported that last weekend was one of the two best openers in the last decade. Birds-per-hunter was up 50 percent over the 10-year average at the Tilden Bridge and the American Falls check stations.
In the Magic Valley, birds-per-hunter checked was the highest in the state. Biologists said there were fewer hunters in the field because of the weather, but 12 percent more birds were found than the 10-year average and twice as many as last year’s opener.
Pheasant hunting in the Treasure Valley was similar to 1995 and the 10-year average. Some hunters reported finding good numbers of birds in areas with better habitat.
Quail and chukar populations continue to be the bright spot for bird hunters in southwestern Idaho. Quail numbers were reported to be at the highest level in recent years and chukar numbers were good in most traditional hunting areas.
Habitat continues to be a problem for all Idaho upland game birds, including pheasants.
The Fish and Game Department said the need for adequate escape cover during winter is especially important for pheasants, because they live in the most intensively farmed areas of the state.
In the last eight years, the department, in cooperation with landowners and local Pheasants Forever chapters, have completed more than 3,500 habitat projects to benefit Idaho’s game birds, including pheasants.
The department is looking for more places where it could cost-share with a landowner to improve pheasant habitat.