Why Does Congress Hate Pheasants?


Image credit:J. Laumer, circa 1976

Time was, if you were unemployed in the upper Midwest during fall at least you had pheasant season to look forward to. At least that. The fall leaves lifted your mood.. Something good to eat was yours if you shot straight.. A few feathers for your daughter to insert into her braids. And, some bang..bang exercise before the snows came. Not any more. Congress has managed to ruin even that.

Congress began by significantly upping corn ethanol incentives, encouraging farmers to plow fence row to fence row. Corn exports were encouraged for a climate-disaster wracked China. 'Why stop here?'...Congress asked itself. It then proceeded to gut the Department of Agriculture conservation reserve budget, encouraging farmers to plow right down to the stream banks, on steep hillsides, and over what had once been soil-conserving grassed water ways. Add to that the extraordinary snow depth and the intense, cold spring rains of Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas in 2010-11- all of these are hallmarks of climate change ignored - nesting failed and pheasant numbers plummeted.Irony under glass: the ring-necked pheasant made it's US debut in the 1950's as an invasive Asian species; hunters later learned to love them, as did farmers - owing to the revenue from out of state hunters. Now, the ring necked pheasant looks as if it will wind up as an expensive delicacy that only wealthy Wall Streeters will be able to enjoy (in a restaurant). The habitat it once was profligate in is gone.

You can get a taste of pheasant destiny in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press story, Minnesota's pheasant numbers plummet.

While the weather -- a harsh winter followed by a wet, cold spring -- appears to be at least partly to blame, the falling numbers of pheasants and their broods observed during the roadside survey worries wildlife experts and pheasant fans because it comes in the face of shrinking habitat, particularly in farming areas.
I doubt whether either Michelle Bachman or Mitt Romney or [fill in his/her name] has ever carried a shotgun through the corn stalks, shot straight, cleaned their own bird, and fried it in onions and bacon and apples. So why would they care?

I'm willing to go out on a limb here, though, and say that mid-western hunters and farmers are connecting the dots. Suits call the shots; and Midwesterner's feel the holes.

Related post: Do Tea Party, Heritage Foundation Oppose Hunting?

Tags: Birds