The Iowa Department of Natural Resources annual survey of upland game populations begins on Aug. 1, with state biologists and conservation officers driving more than 200, 30-mile roadside routes statewide.
"The August Roadside Survey is the DNR's main tool for determining whether our fall populations will be up or down from the previous year," says Todd Bogenschutz, Upland Wildlife Research Biologist for the DNR.
Routes start at sunrise on mornings with heavy dew and are driven primarily on gravel roads because of lower traffic volume. A heavy dew causes hen pheasants to move their broods to the gravel roadsides to dry off before feeding, allowing them to be counted easily. Routes are run over the same roads each year from August 1 to 15 so the information is comparable with previous years.
This survey is the best indicator of what hunters will find when they take to the field this fall, said Bogenschutz. "Historically, when the roadside counts are compared to the small game harvest figures, they parallel each other nicely," he said.
However, since the survey depends on heavy dew for consistent results, hot dry weather in August can affect the results. "The birds do not come to the roads as consistently in dry years, which makes the counts more variable," Bogenschutz said.
Final results of the survey will be compiled in late August and posted on the DNR's website in early September. To find out more information visit: www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting/PheasantSmallGame/AugustRoadsideSurveyData.aspx
Interested persons can also sign up for e-mail notification when the roadside results have been posted.