Drought impacts on hunting this year

Local News

MINNEHAHA COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — This year’s hot, dry conditions have affected wildlife and habitats.

While officials believe the wildlife numbers should remain good this year, they do worry about the effects that it could possibly have on the younger animals. But, not all the drought effects are negative.

The drought plays a role in many areas of the wildlife world, but it’s not all bad… especially when it comes to pheasant hatching.

“If you had to pick between wet and cold conditions, you’re better off with warm and dry,” said Nick Harrington, communications manager. “Now in June, we had some really warm days in June, it was really warm, really dry. So again, not the worst thing, when compared to giant hail storms, 8-inch rains storms, damp cold conditions.”

However, the heat may have affected the survival of those new birds.

“Expect for most of the population to be older birds, they are probably going to be more experienced, they are probably going to be more wild, they might be a little tougher to hunt,” Harrington said.

Farmers are harvesting their crops earlier than normal this year, which means there is less cover for the pheasants to hide in.

“When we have a normal year as far as harvest goes, a lot of the pheasants will figure out that being in the crops is a safe place to be and away from hunters,” said Josh Delger, Regional Wildlife Supervisor. “But, you know, the sooner the crops get out the more that are going to be in the fields where people are hunting and be available to those hunters.”

With the lower water levels this year, you will see an impact on duck hunting locations.

“If the water is lower, its going to be harder to get into some of those sloughs and lakes to hunt from the water,” said Delger. “And also if the water is low enough, there might not be, birds aren’t even going to be attracted to those specific spots, but there will be field hunting opportunities as well, but the biggest issue is just where the water is going to be and be able to hunt the water spots.”

Scouting out locations for hunting will be crucial this season. You want to make sure you are looking for quality habitats. With dry grassland conditions, it’s also important to take measures while hunting to make sure you don’t start a fire.

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