CRP Increases Pheasant Populations

New USDA report estimates a 22% increase in counts of ring-necked pheasants for every 4% increase in CRP enrolled acres within large units of pheasant habitat.

Published on: Aug 15, 2006

An increase in enrolled Conservation Reserve Program acres correlates to increased numbers of ring-necked pheasants, according to a new study released Thursday by Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanss.

The report estimates a 22% increase in counts of ring-necked pheasants for every 4% increase in CRP enrolled acres within large units of pheasant habitat.

"It's gratifying to see research validating what we've long known - that there are tremendous environmental benefits from CRP along with the benefits to producers," says Johanns. "This is great news for CRP participants, hunters, bird watchers, researchers and conservationists nationwide"

Researchers from Western EcoSystems Technology, (West), in Cheyenne, Wyo., conducted the pheasant study and prepared the report. The researchers evaluated CRP's impact on ring-necked pheasants by observing Breeding Bird Survey counts along 388 nationwide BBS routes. BBS counts are conducted in June during the peak of nesting season, except for desert regions and some southern states where counts are conducted in May. Consistent methodology, observer expertise, yearly visits to the same spots and suitable weather conditions produce comparable data over time.

The report, "Estimating the Response of Ring-Necked Pheasant to the Conservation Reserve Program," is available on FSA's Web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov/ and on West's Web site at: www.west-inc.com/.

Johanns previously announced plans for the pheasant study in March 2005, along with two other wildlife population research studies. In the second study, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service examines the effect of CRP on Prairie Pothole Region upland duck populations. In another study, Mississippi State University examines the effect of CRP on northern bobwhite quail.

The pheasant study is the first of the three research projects to be completed. The other studies will be finalized by the end of this year. All of the studies quantify CRP accomplishments and improve program accountability.