Annual Upland Game Survey Begins

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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) annual survey of upland game populations will soon be under way with wildlife biologists and conservation officers driving more than 200, 30-mile roadside routes statewide between August 1-15.

The August Roadside Survey, as it is called, "is the DNR's main tool for determining whether our fall populations will be up or down from the previous year," said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the DNR. Routes start at sunrise on mornings with heavy dew and are driven primarily on gravel roads because of lower traffic volume. A heavy dew causes hens to move their broods to the gravel roadsides to dry off before feeding, allowing them to be counted easily.

Routes are driven over the same roads each year so that the information is comparable with previous years. According to Bogenschutz, this survey is the best indicator of what hunters will find this fall when they take to the field.

"Historically, when the roadside counts are compared to the small game harvest figures, they parallel each other nicely," Bogenschutz said. However, since the survey depends on heavy dew for consistent results, hot dry weather in August can affect the results. "The birds do not come to the roads as consistently in dry years, which makes the counts more variable."

Final results of the survey will be compiled in late August and will be released in early September. Small game hunters interested in this year's counts can log on to and receive an e-mail notification when the roadside results have been posted.