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Kandiyohi Pheasants Forever encouraging pheasant feeding

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WILLMAR — Recent winter storms and a growing snowpack are causing stress for some wildlife populations, although problems are not widespread.

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The Kandiyohi County chapter of Pheasants Forever is beginning an effort to encourage people to feed pheasants due to signs that some of the birds are stressed in the county.

The increased snowpack is forcing the birds to range farther for food. Increasingly, pheasants are being seen feeding along roads and in open areas, said Jeff Miller, with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife office at Sibley State Park. Miller said the pheasants are more vulnerable to predators and collisions with vehicles as a result.

While this winter is not severe, Miller noted that there are not the food plots of previous years to help the pheasants as the snowpack limits their access to food.

Feeding the pheasants can reduce the time that pheasants are exposing themselves in open areas. It can also assure the birds are in better health come the nesting season.

The winter snowpack is likely to blame for declining oxygen levels in the Florida Slough.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently opened the small body of water to liberalized fishing regulations. It is one of the only water bodies in the state opened to promiscuous fishing this season.

Dave Coahran, fisheries supervisor with the DNR in Spicer, said crews will be testing oxygen levels in area lakes this coming week, but so far there have not been any other reports of problems. He is concerned that oxygen levels in Lake Wakanda are lower than desired.  The crews will also focus on Point Lake, Calhoun, the Middle Fork of the Crow River north of New London, and other shallow waters that have a history of winter oxygen losses.

Farmers are reporting losses due to deer depredation in some areas. Miller said he has been responding to an uptick in deer depredation complaints.

There have been reports of deer entering livestock yards for hay to the west as well. Dave Trauba, manager of the Lac qui Parle refuge with the Minnesota DNR, said it doesn’t appear that the deer are under unusual stress, but they are becoming more opportunistic.

He said the pheasant population in the Lac qui Parle area appears to be managing well. The area had a fairly lengthy period with minimal snow cover, and the birds had no difficulty foraging for foods. They also benefit from food plots and cover in that area.

The Chippewa County chapter of Pheasants Forever will be deciding after the snow expected Monday and Tuesday whether to launch a pheasant feeding campaign. The Yellow Medicine East chapter has a gravity box available in Granite Falls for people feeding pheasants.

Those interested in feeding pheasants can purchase a feeder and two bags of corn from the Kandiyohi County chapter of Pheasants Forever for $25, according to Kevin Ochsendorf, chapter president. If interested, contact Ochsendorf at 320-212-2412; Steph Deleski at 320-894-5111; or Dick Miller at 320-894-2126.

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Tom Cherveny
Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
(320) 214-4335
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