The 2008-09 winter has been a difficult one for wildlife.


According to Jeff Zajac, DNR?wildlife manager in Redwood Falls, all of the wildlife are being impacted, but some are feeling it more - especially pheasants.


 


The 2008-09 winter has been a difficult one.

That is especially true for wildlife.

According to Jeff Zajac, the DNR?wildlife manager in Redwood Falls, all of the wildlife are being impacted, but some are feeling it more.

The species seeing the most significant negative impact is pheasants.

There had been some food available for the pheasant population, said Zajac, but the more snow that falls the less that food and the necessary shelter is available.

“The wind driven snow is really doing damage,”?he said. “Every time we have a blizzard there will be significant loss.”

One of the ways the loss is being realized is in that quest for shelter from the high winds.

What often happens, said Zajac, is the pheasants get down in the dredge ditches for protection, and then as the wind blows it gets dumped into the ditches and buries them. This winter, on top of a wet June last year, when breeding is at its peak, is going to result in a lower population of pheasants.

Many pheasants are now leaving their cover to find food, which leaves them susceptible to predators. Quite often, they are also seen alongside roadways which is also very dangerous.

 

Part of the problem, said Zajac is people are trying to feed pheasants and other wildlife by dumping the food right along the road. That leads to problems for the wildlife and for drivers.

“The deer right now are hungry, but they are not starving,”?said Zajac, adding they went into the winter in good shape.

Feeding wildlife is an OK thing, said Zajac, so long as it is done responsibly and consistently. Shelled corn, he said, is the best, but it should be placed in areas with good cover.

When it comes ot pheasants, said Zajac, that means not putting it near tall trees, as owls and hawks pick them off.

Zajac said it takes about half a pound of feed a week for each pheasant and five to six pounds of feed a week for deer.

“It can get expensive to feed,”?Zajac said, but, he cautioned if you feed wildlife once they are going to come back to that spot looking for more.

Leaving standing grain or creating some form of food plot is the best way to help the wildlife maintain over the winter, said Zajac, adding that good winter cover in the right places is also important for their survival.

Pheasants are going to need that cover this year especially as they begin to recover losses through reproduction.

“They need that habitat for breeding,” said Zajac.

For more information about how to help the wildlife both now and for the future, contact Zajac at (507)?637-4076 or stop by his office at 1241 East Bridge Street.