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October 12, 2010

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release was previously issued to statewide media on Oct. 8.]

MADISON - The fall 2010 pheasant hunting season opens statewide at noon Oct. 16 and runs through Dec. 31.

In Wisconsin, research has shown that wetlands are one of the most important year-round cover types for pheasants. Areas within the pheasant management counties that contain adequate winter cover such as cattail and shrub-carr marshes, well-established native prairie fields, and areas with 15 percent or more of the landscape in idle grassland will have the highest pheasant densities. It will be important for hunters to identify areas with high-quality habitat, concentrating their hunting efforts in that area.

"Successful hunters will have a number of potential hunting spots lined up and be ready to move in order to find birds," says Sharon Fandel, acting upland wildlife ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.

During the 2009 pheasant hunting season, more than 57,000 hunters went out in search of pheasants and reported harvesting 241,732 birds. The top counties for harvest included Dane, Fond du Lac, and Waukesha.

Pheasant stocking program

This fall, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists plan to release approximately 51,000 game farm pheasants on 71 public hunting grounds. This is an increase from 2009 when 45,000 game farm pheasants were stocked on 71 public hunting grounds.

Hunters can check the Pheasant Stocking on State Properties map on the DNR website or the 2010 Pheasant Stocking Information Sheet, identifying public hunting grounds slated for pheasant stocking. Stocked public hunting grounds are primarily located in the southern part of the state, in the core of the pheasant range. Hunters should carefully verify which public hunting grounds have a 2 p.m. closure and/or allow hen pheasant hunting.

More information on the 2010 pheasant population outlook is available as part of the 2010 Fall Hunting & Trapping Forecast (pdf). See the 2010 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations, available on the hunting and trapping regulations page, for additional details.

Wild Pheasant populations

Throughout much of the southern half of the state, winter conditions (2007-2008 and 2008-2009) were moderate to severe with heavy snow. Spring weather during the last three breeding seasons has also been a challenge with cool and/or wet conditions, resulting in decreased brood success.

"Two of the past three winters and springs have been very hard on Wisconsin's wild pheasant population," added Fandel. "Both major surveys used to gauge pheasant populations in the spring showed decreases in 2010, on top of decreases observed over the prior two years."

The spring crowing count survey showed a 3 percent decrease and the rural mail carrier pheasant survey showed a 14 percent decrease in the number of roosters counted compared to 2009.

In addition, brood survey information collected in July and August showed a 33 percent decrease in the number of broods seen per observer and a decrease in the average brood size, from 5.2 in 2009 to 4.3 in 2010.

Bag limits

On Oct. 16 and 17, the daily bag limit is one cock and the possession limit is two. For the remainder of the season the daily bag limit is two cocks and the possession limit is four. Some public hunting grounds offer both hen and rooster pheasant hunting, which requires a free permit and tags, and some properties also have 2 p.m. closure times. The 2 p.m. closure requirements are only in effect for the first two weeks of the pheasant season, from Oct. 18 through Nov. 3. A Pheasant Stamp is required to hunt pheasants statewide.

Pheasant hunting opportunities through the Mentored Hunting Program

2010 marks the second year of the Mentored Hunting Program , which allows hunters age 10 or older, born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, to obtain a hunting license and hunt without first completing Hunter Education, provided they hunt with a mentor and comply with all of the requirements under the program.

For additional information and the requirements of the program, visit the Mentored Hunting Program page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sharon Fandel, acting upland wildlife ecologist: (608) 261-8458, Krista McGinley, assistant upland wildlife ecologist: (608) 264-8963, or Bob Manwell, Office of Communication: (608) 264-9248

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 12, 2010

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