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Nebraska Pheasant Population Up From 2008

August 27, 2009.

From the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission:

Spring and summer wildlife surveys indicate a statewide increase in pheasant abundance compared to 2008, according to a report by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The April Rural Mail Carrier Survey showed a 24-percent increase in the statewide population from 2008, and the July Rural Mail Carrier Survey was up 8 percent. A generally mild winter, then a warm spring, provided favorable conditions for the over-winter survival and subsequent pheasant production.

The following is from the 2009 upland game hunting forecast:

Pheasant

According to the April and July Rural Mail Carrier Surveys, regional pheasant numbers were highest in the Southwest, Northeast and Panhandle pheasant regions. The population in the Southwest was particularly good, and Commission staff believes hunting should be good in most areas of the Southwest.

In the Northeast region, frequent observations of broods have been made in areas with permanent grasslands, such as Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land. CRP-Management Access Program (MAP) availability has changed, so hunters in the region should scout areas to ensure they still will be available.

Increased rainfall in the Panhandle has improved habitat conditions throughout the region, but there is more access for hunting in the northern Panhandle.

The pheasant season opens Oct. 31. The youth season is Oct. 24-25. The daily bag is three roosters, and the possession limit is 12. Only rooster pheasants may be harvested.

Quail

Summer surveys indicated northern bobwhite abundance increased by 22 percent statewide from last year. Bobwhites benefited from the same favorable weather conditions as pheasants.

The April and July Rural Mail Carrier Surveys showed substantial increases from 2008 in quail abundance in the Southeast, North-central and East-central bobwhite management zones. A whistle count survey revealed increased numbers in the Southeast and North-central units compared to last year. Reports from biologists support survey results that show an above-average population in the Southeast.

The quail season opens Oct. 31. The youth season is Oct. 24-25. The daily bag limit is six and the possession limit is 24.

Grouse

Abundance of spring sharp-tailed grouse in the Sandhills was similar to 2008, but greater prairie chicken numbers were higher, based on the breeding ground survey. Prairie chicken abundance in the southeast was similar to last year, based on the same survey.

A limited number of special permits is available on a first-come, first-served basis for hunting grouse east of U.S. Highway 81. Contact the Lincoln office of the Commission at (402) 471-0641 for more information.

The grouse season opens Sept. 12. West of U.S. Highway 81, the daily bag limit is three grouse and the possession limit is 12. East of U.S. 81, the bag and possession limits are three birds with the special permit.

Cottontail

Abundance was generally lower compared to 2008, except for the central and southwest regions. The highest numbers observed in the Rural Mail Carrier Survey were in the central region, followed by southwest and southeast.

The cottontail season opens Sept. 1. The daily bag limit is seven and the possession limit is 28.

For the complete upland game forecast, including maps showing the pheasant and bobwhite management unit boundaries and lists of top counties in each region, contact the Commission office in Lincoln. It also is available at OutdoorNebraska.org.

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