Date of Award:

5-1966

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Wildland Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Wildlife Biology

Advisor/Chair:

Jessop B. Low

Abstract

The ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) is one of the most important upland game species over much of the nation. It is also one of the most difficult to effectively manage for the increasing hunter population. The high value of agricultural lands renders habitat improvement programs by state agencies a financial impossibility except on an extremely localized basis. Therefore, the primary pheasant management tool largely remains hunting season manipulation.

The federal government through various agricultural programs may have an influence upon pheasant habitat. Public Law 540 entitled "Agricultural Act of 1956," more commonly referred to as the "Soil Bank Act" (Congress, 84th, 2d Session 1956, 1957), seemed quite promising in this respect. This act provided for two programs, the Acreage Reserve and the Conservation Reserve. The first was a short term program and of negligible value for pheasants. The second was of longer duration and is the one under which remaining Soil Bank lands are included.

Under the Conservation Reserve, cropland was taken out of production and a sound conservation practice established in an attempt to balance the total production and demand of surplus crops. Farmers signed contracts for periods of three to ten years. The federal government then shared the cost of establishing conservation practices and made annual payments for maintaining them during the contract periods. The Conservation Reserve program has not been extended since 1960. Consequently, all remaining contracts will have expired by the end of 1971.

Relatively little Conservation Reserve land has been put into "G" practices specifically designed for wildlife. These include such things as wildlife food and cover plantings, development or restoration of shallow water areas, and construction of ponds and wildlife watering facilities. Instead, the bulk of wildlife benefits will have to be derived from the "A-2" practice, the establishment of permanent vegetative cover, since this is the one most widely employed. Any appraisal of the Conservation Reserve then is, in actuality, an evaluation of habitat provided by the "A-2" practice.

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