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TrophyEyes

Owls affecting pheasant population

20 posts in this topic

I was told today that owls can distroy the pheasant population, is that true? We have 300+ acres of CRP land and we have seen a couple of owls this year and that obviously worries us because we primarilly pheasant hunt that land. If they are such a problem on the pheasant population, what can you do about it?

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I hunt SW minnesota and we see Owls all the time. I even had one pick up and quickly drop a decoy before legal duck hours.

I have noticed we see more owls on WMA's that have alot of pheasants. So, as I see it owls, are an indication of ample prey not a limiting factor to them. I aslo know owls take out mice which girdle my new seedlings and for that I am thankful.

Our local population of owls is never very large but on ocassion the winter in Canada is severe enough to force many owls into the state in search of food. Many make it to the pheasant range and I'm sure on those rare winters they have an impact.

Just don't end up in the cuffs and collars section of the paper trying to get rid of them . Hans

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Pheasants Forever has had numerous articles about owls. Cutting down single trees where they perch is one solution. Another was to 'feather' the edges of the woods to create cover. The technique is to hinge cut a tree so that the top tips over but stays attached to the trunk forming a pile of loose cover for the birds. Join PF and read the magazine and learn about the things that need doing.

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Cool, wet spring does more to curb the pheasant population than owls ever will.

Poor spring weather kills young birds before they can even become a meal for another predator.

Habitat (the right habitat) enables pheasants to move from cover to fields with a minimum of visual exposure.

Crows are a great deterant to owls ...

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Avian predators are one of the largest threats to Pheasants hands down.

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Along the same lines, hawks... Has anyone else noticed an increase in the red-tailed hawk population? We hunt a lot of shrap-tailed grouse back home and have been seeing oodles of hawks on high-lines and circling CRP and bean fields. I know they affect the population! A lot of birds we see and end up chasing are due to hawks getting them up out of the cover...

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Majority of the redtails you see on the power lines are juvenile birds. Most will die before next spring of starvation. Nature is not too nice to the young hawks either...

Quote:
The mortality rate for juvenile Red-tailed Hawks in the wild is over 65%, whereas the mortality rate for juvenile Red-tailed Hawks flown by falconers is under 5%.

or worse

Quote:
Mortality Rate: Like many of our raptors these birds have a high

mortality rate in their first year, of as high as 80-85%.

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Nature was taking care of itself long before we started worying about it. They call them "Birds of Prey" for a reason.

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I agree with Neighbor guy. I would be way more concerned with the incredible amount of nest raiding predators we have like skunks and coons. If you can judge their population by the amount of roadkill these days they must have had a banner year for reproduction.

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Habitat (planning & $$), climate (where you are) and weather (just plain luck) are the keys. With habitat and good weather (winter and spring) pheasant populations will be big regardless of predators.

Predators will impact localized populations especially when habitat is not ideal or weather (heavy snow cover) makes then vulnerable.

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I'm an avid falconer and raptor enthusiast. I also gun hunt quite a bit. Reading this topic pains me a little bit, there are a lot of poor assumptions and half-truths being passed around.

Primary forage for any owl is mice or rabbits. They might take a pheasant if the opportunity presents itself easily, but that would not be the normal behavior. Local populations are quite good, there are only a couple of species that get pushed down from the north as mentioned.

Avian predators are a lot less of an influence than muc33 suggests, definitely not one of the largest.

Farrel cats definitely are, they are not a natural predator and they are absolutely deadly on any bird population, much of the time killing to kill, not to eat. If you want to target something that's hurting your hunting birds, this would be the one.

Matt Breuer, i'd take a guess that you're seeing A LOT more than just red-tailed hawks. There are many species that fall into the Buteo family or short wing family and without looking closely or knowing, resemble the famous red-tail. All are smaller and not capable of taking much more than mice except on rare occasions.

Please know your ecosystem and wildlife before posting things so matter-of-factly in the public eye. Obviously lots of viewers here "learning" whatever is typed.

Cheers

Jeff

Edited for Hans... laugh

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I am the worst speller, so for me to comment on spelling is worse than the pot calling the kettle black-but I think there is some humor potential here.

I think pharo cats belong in Egypt, maybe like the sphynx.

Ferral/feril/ferral/faril/farile/ferrel animals are any domesticated animals run wild. Man I hate words like that. Hans

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Along the same lines, hawks... Has anyone else noticed an increase in the red-tailed hawk population? We hunt a lot of shrap-tailed grouse back home and have been seeing oodles of hawks on high-lines and circling CRP and bean fields. I know they affect the population! A lot of birds we see and end up chasing are due to hawks getting them up out of the cover...
Their migrating through this time of year.We had few here till bout 2 weeks ago, now their everywhere.And if you know or read about HawkRidge in Duluth,they funnel through Mn.to avoid long distance flight over Lake Superior

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JRedig, you pick the area, you can make that statement, same as me. I understand what you are saying, but reality is that during winter, and in large populated areas, avian predators are a large threat. Are they as large of threat as weather, no. Are they as large a threat as coyote or fox, likely not. But find any pheasant lodge owner, or anyone who manages a property for pheasants and tell me they don't or haven't taken precautions for avian preditors. The number is large. By no means am I trying to put down your falconry. I think it is quite amazing, but the reality that avian predators are not a concern is just a bit scary to me. Again, I am not pointing the finger at all Birds of Prey. This includes study proven nest killers and chick takers like the crow, raven, magpie, and birds of prey like the owls and hawks. The combat for this fear, is to provide adequate habitat for cover. Heck even farm machinery is a large killing factor of pheasants. Bottom line is to give the birds proper habitat, including good nesting, without cutting, proper woody cover to hide in, roost in and not putting food plots in wide open areas.

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Ugh, I admit it, a lot of the hawks I saw were NOT red-tailed...

I too think falconry is cool, and all kidding aside, the majority of the hawks I saw up North were indeed red-tailed (large hawk, big fanned red tail). There were also a ton of small hawks, almost the size of a dove and some in-between. I don't foresee them being much of a problem. The large red-tailed hawks in the ditch or perched on a pole or tree were the one's I was amazed to see in high abundance.

As for watching what I say before posting, maybe you should travel from the MEtro to where I hunt to see for yourself before telling me to watch my p's and q's....

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As for watching what I say before posting, maybe you should travel from the MEtro to where I hunt to see for yourself before telling me to watch my p's and q's....

That statement was not directed directly to you, sorry it came off that way, it was a generalized comment on the entire topic. I get out of the twin cities and head north/west almost every weekend during the fall beginning in September and am an avid bird spotter along the way. And as another poster suggested, migration is in FULL swing with cooler weather across canada, lots of moving birds, you should see more this time of year. I don't quite have my head buried in the sand as a city slicker as you implied.

muc33, i'm not sure what you mean by the opening line in your reply. Avian predators are certainly not one of the largest concerns for things like pheasants. Just because they chase doesn't mean they kill. I just realized we're not talking about the same thing. I don't take pheasant farms/lodges or the like into ANY consideration here, that's not a natural situation. If you have a farm, expect the issue, you put lots of easily accessible food in harms way, that's not the raptors fault and information from places like that is unfair to use in a generalization about wild birds. Of course that will sway the "data".

I did not say they weren't a concern at all though. Few red-tails are pheasant hunters, goshawks are probably the worst to fend off and few other species are even capable of taking a bird that size.

Glad to hear you guys think it's cool, i'd recommend trying it sometime. Best nature/wild interaction i've ever found in all of hunting.

-Jeff

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We are fine as far as thoughts go here, don't think I am getting itchy or anything smile I am saying avians of any type are a concern. Crows are nest robbers, owls take chicks, red tails as well, there are many flying predators. I am saying, don't forget the fact that avians pose a realistic threat to your property without proper placement of food plots in relation to cover.... same with farms or lodges. It has to be considered. All I am saying, with proven studies and the like, avians can, do, and will.... chase, kill, eat, rob nest all the same as other predators. Please don't think I am blaming falcons, or hawks in which you use for hunting.... not the case, general facts on avian (flying birds) pose a threat to pheasants.

I would love some time to come with to watch you hunt with your birds. It would be cool. I would also invite you down to my neck of the woods anytime to try. It sounds awesome.

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Since hawks and owls are federally protected species theres not much you can do about them except provide good pheasant habitat and place your food plots and pheasant feeders adjacent to good cover. I personally don't think that hawks and owls take very many pheasants, I think raccoons, skunks, possums, crows, and feral cats all are much bigger threats to pheasants and pheasant nests.

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In the Fargo paper today...

A western North Dakota outfitter suspected for years of shooting protected birds was caught when he fired at a mounted bald eagle decoy, authorities say.

Gary Stang, 63, of Regent, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Bismarck to a charge of attempting to take and kill a migratory bird. He was arrested near his business last March, the same day investigators set up the decoy on an abandoned farmstead. It was the first time such a tactic has been used in the state, they said.

“In his mind, when he pulled the trigger, it was a live bird,” said Rich Grosz, a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Stang’s attorney, Tom Dickson, said his client is under the mistaken impression that raptors – including eagles, hawks and owls – are hurting his business by preying on pheasants.

“Some of our older farmers have an irrational attitude toward birds of prey,” Dickson said. “This would be one of those situations.”

Grosz said Stang was a suspect for several years, after investigators started “putting pins on the map” when looking into reports of dead raptors.

In 2004, undercover agents set up hunting trips with Stang, who owns the Good Life Hunting Co. Bed and Breakfast in Hettinger County, and another outfitter, Warren Anderson, of Bowman.

Anderson eventually was arrested and pleaded guilty to federal charges.

He was ordered to pay $60,000 in fines and restitution.

“Mr. Stang was put on a back burner, but we took another look last spring,” Grosz said.

Investigators found a large bald eagle mount in the federal repository that was about to be destroyed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Hayden, who prosecuted the case, said it is the biggest eagle he’s ever seen.

“When you set this thing in the field, it’s humongous. That’s the only word I can think of to describe it,” Hayden said.

The decoy was placed in a public area where Stang was known to patrol for raptors. Investigators said Stang got out of his vehicle, leaned over the hood with his rifle and shot the decoy.

“Within four hours, it was basically a done deal,” Grosz said.

The bullet struck the decoy in the breastbone area, which normally would cover the heart and lungs.

“When I pulled him over, I asked him what he did. The utterance he gave to me was that he had just shot a hawk,” Grosz said. “It wasn’t that he was target practicing or sighting his rifle.”

Grosz said it’s the first time he has used a bald eagle decoy to catch a suspect.

“It’s an alternative approach, but we had to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “Killing one of these birds is an unacceptable thing.”

The plea agreement calls for a year of probation, a fine of more than $1,000, and the loss of hunting privileges in North America for one year. Stang also will give up a rifle, scope and ammunition. The plea was approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles S. Miller, who also imposed the sentence on Thursday.

“We made our point,” Hayden said of the plea deal. “It’s not always about getting a big fine.”

Hayden said wildlife agents have been running undercover operations in North Dakota for several years, resulting in numerous arrests and a few felony convictions. Last year, authorities made their first arrest for pole-trapping, which involves the use leg-hold traps on fence posts to capture and kill birds.

“The common theme we are seeing is that these cases are related to the outfitting business,” Hayden said. “It’s a business that’s fairly new to North Dakota, so we are going through some growing pains.”

The eagle decoy survived Stang’s shooting, Hayden said.

“He’s good to go,” Hayden said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if the agents decided to use him again. Hunters are warned.”

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