After the first big season of Governor Noem’s trap-o-rama and other pheasant-fostering initiatives, Game Fish and Parks counted 17% fewer pheasants around the state than last year.
Governor Noem’s GF&P chief responds by saying we need to change how we count pheasants:
“We’re trying to wean people out of this ’17 percent’,” Hepler said. “We’re trying to figure out a better way to translate this information for you.”
State conservation officers have driven the same set of routes each morning during the first 15 days of August for decades and count the roosters, hens and broods of chicks they see [Bob Mercer, “GFP Leader Says He’s Working on a New Way to Gauge South Dakota’s Pheasant Numbers,” KELO-TV, 2019.09.07].
I’ll grant that driving around and counting pheasants from the roadways may not give a complete picture of the state’s pheasant population. But it’s benchmark data that we’ve used for years. Implementing a new bird count method may have merit, but we’ll need to watch closely to see if any new method is superior or if it just provides GF&P an opportunity to tell our self-proclaimed Sportsman-in-Chief what she wants to hear.