Date of this Version
One of the most important game birds in the United States is the ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus). This Asian refugee has provided recreation for untold numbers of sportsmen. Its presence has meant millions of dollars for state game agency coffers, not to mention its impact on local economies. Pheasant populations have fluctuated widely in past years, but the overall trend since the early 1960's has been downward over most of the pheasant range. This decline was caused primarily by loss of habitat due to change in agricultural land use (Mohlis 1974, Dahlgren 1963, Kobriger 1972, Taylor et al. 1976).
Limited attempts have been made by resource agencies to offset this trend and restore pheasant populations. However, insufficient budgets have prohibited a concerted attack on the problem. The only government programs which have had a positive impact on pheasant numbers were those involving cropland retirement, none of which were directed toward increasing pheasant numbers. It is generally agreed among pheasant biologists that these programs, given input from wildlife personnel, could have had an even greater impact on pheasant populations.
Since the pheasant is such an important part of the management programs of many agencies, additional attempts will undoubtedly be made to increase pheasant numbers. With grain surpluses now appearing to be a reality once again, federal cropland retirement programs are not entirely unlikely. Resource managers must maximize the effect of any future programs on pheasant numbers. This requires a priori quantitative predictions of the effect of a proposed program on pheasant populations. State agencies need methods to evaluate the effect of several alternative programs to permit selection of the most feasible approach to increasing pheasant numbers.