Roadside Survey Reflects Increase in Iowa Pheasant Populations

Article by Cassie Sherwood, student at Northwest Missouri State University


Pheasant populations statewide in Iowa have reached the highest numbers in 7 years. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources recently released data from its annual August 2023 Roadside Survey which describes population counts for several wildlife species, including the ring-necked pheasant. The survey records over 6,000 miles of routes from which the data counts are collected. The most significant increase in pheasant population was seen within the Southwest and Northeast regions of the state, including Montgomery County. Compared with data from 2022, counts in the SW show a 146% increase and the highest count for that region in 15 years.

Pheasant populations are dependent on weather conditions overwinter; the highest survival rates are seen when mild winters occur. Additionally, nest survival and brood survival throughout the year influence population counts. Earlier this year, the Iowa DNR projected to see an increase in statewide pheasant populations due to favorable winter conditions. Central and Southern regions of Iowa received snowfall below the average amount. The recent pheasant count suggests a direct dependence between weather conditions and higher survival rates.

Pheasant hunters within Iowa should expect a good hunting season with the birds. Hunters around the Northern region specifically should experience the highest density, though statewide it is also predicted to be a successful harvest. In addition to high densities, the dry fall will most likely result in an early crop harvest for farmers this year, making the hunting season easier due to the clear fields. The DNR predicts 400,000 roosters to be harvested this season. The pheasant season begins in late October and runs through the beginning of next year. See the 2023 Iowa August Roadside Survey at for more information regarding ringed-neck pheasant population.


Published on September 18th, 2023 Photo rights reserved to