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postheadericon Nebraska pheasant and agriculture – how the two are related

Nebraska Pheasant And Agriculture – How The Two Are Related

Agriculture in Nebraska and the ring-necked pheasant have formed a closely-linked relationship, starting from 1958. The birds have led the hunters interested in Nebraska pheasant hunting a merry dance, and they have had a rather dificult time keeping up with them over the years!

Those were the peak years for Nebraska pheasant hunting–between 1958 and 1966. The hunting seasons were the lengthiest among all the states and the bag limits were substantial. Some areas promised plenty of game as well.

It was during the same period that the Soil Bank was launched. This land-idling program aimed to reduce production and bring down oversupply of grain. This was in contrast to the farming practices after the war that had aimed at increasing production. Hence, those habitats which had been lost and were on the verge of disappearing, were quickly restored. Since the pheasants got back their homes, they flourished! And Nebraska pheasant hunting picked up!

The boom continued in the early 1960s too, since the Soil Bank had succeeded in restoring the prime habitats of these birds, measuring 876,000 acres. It had not been possible to create this sort of a habitat on land meant for agriculture. Local economies received a boost with the large numbers of non-local hunters who poured into the state!

This happy state ended in 1966, when these habitats captured by the Soil Bank were returned to farmers. By 1969, all contracts had come to an end. To add to the misery, the farmers decided to bring about a change in farming practices yet again. The previous acreage and old farmsteads were destroyed to create more land for agriculture. The destruction involved the center pivot, that is , the brushy thickets and shelter belts.

As compared to the period between 1960 to 1967, when there were 12.5 pheasants/100 miles, the numbers came down to 2.2/100 miles after 20 years. Nebraska pheasant hunting therefore came to a standstill.

Another attempt was made in 1985 to improve matters. The Farm Bill passed during that year launched the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), something similar to the Soil Bank program. The central theme was the same–reduce grain surpluses that had resulted because of earlier agricultural practices and help in conservation.

Some improvement did come about because of the
CRP. Countries that associated with the CRP found their pheasant numbers increasing. Rural Mail Carrier Surveys showed that the birds had doubled their numbers and so had other wildlife, but the increase was not as significant as everyone had expected.

As soon as the CRP brought about a change in some locations, Nebraska pheasant hunting showed signs of picking up again. Of course, the glory of the olden days was missing!

With Nebraska pheasant hunting being reduced, the state’s economy is hard-hit. Nearly 131,000 hunters brought in 54 million dollars, in 1996. Step ahead to five years later, and the scene is drastically different! Only 100,000 hunters (number decreased by 24%) and 36 million dollars.

If Nebraska pheasant hunting has to be restored to its former glory, it all depends on the efforts of the CRP. Pheasants Forever is a private group coming forward to lend a helping hand too. Ultimately, it is left to the farmers and their agricultural practices to decide the destiny of the large tracts of land. And of course, the final decider of the pheasant’s lot and the kismet of all wildlife, is Washington!

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