Annual Mentor Day at Barr Lake State Park

Pheasants Forever members have participated for many years in the annual Mentor Day at Barr Lake State Park.  The event this year was held on Aug. 12, 2023.  The public is able to participate in hands-on activities including geo-locating, canoeing, fishing, archery, and other outdoor activities.  Our Pheasants Forever chapter sets up a pellet gun target range which we use to introduce participants to gun safety and marksmanship.  Everyone has a “blast” and shooters are able to take their targets and bullseye shots with them as mementos.  

Eastern Colorado Habitat Tour

On July 7, Pheasants Forever, Colorado Wildlife Biologists, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife conducted a tour for PF Chapters and CPW staff. The tour occurred in eastern Colorado and visited several Corners for Conservation projects and a buffered playa wetland project. These sites were previously farmed and are now enrolled in high-quality habitats for upland and grassland birds, deer, wetland-dependent wildlife, and pollinators. All acres enrolled in these programs are enrolled in the Walk-in Access program, thus coupling habitat conservation with public access.

This tour highlighted the importance of both the 4 Corners and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service EQIP projects. These are critical for many forms of wildlife on the eastern plains. One only needed to listen to hear the insects and the songbirds making the habitat their home. I highly recommend visiting a PF & CPW project and seeing for oneself. 

Of importance to all of us is the survival of pheasant and quail in these habitats. It might be a couple of years before good years like this one produces plentiful bird populations. But without habitat, it will not occur at all. 

A special thank you to Michael and Bob for organizing the tour.

New Cottonwoods at Barr Lake

On June 29, Barr Lake State Park and South Metro Pheasants Forever hosted a team of Oxy volunteers in a Cottonwood replacement project. The cottonwoods that surround Barr Lake serve as a home for many different species of animals that are reaching the end of their lives. The project planted a dozen cottonwoods in a meadow on the south side of the park’s preserve area.

A special thanks to both Barr Lake staff and Oxy volunteers for joining us in this project! And a big thanks to all of the PF volunteers who support these projects.  Our wildlife thanks you.  

Earth Day 2023

On Saturday, April 22, a cold and blustery Earth Day, South Metro PF again sponsored adding to the pollinator plot at Barr Lake State Park. Joined by the Wildlands Restoration Volunteers and with Oxy’s financial support, Pheasant’s Forever volunteers and Barr Lake staff guided the planting of 130 + rabbit brush bushes and a variety of flowering plants. The purpose of the pollinator plot is a multiyear project to enhance the habitat environment for birds and bees while providing a great educational environment for the community.

ISE Show Volunteer Opportunity January 12-15th

Dear Members and valued supporters of South Metro Pheasants Forever:

We have purchased a booth at the International Sportsmans Expo (ISE) and are looking for Chapter members who are interested in volunteering to help with the PF booth.

How it works… You sign up for the morning or evening shift to work the booth. It is a great opportunity to meet other members and help promote PF to the Expo attendees. The balance of the time you can spend enjoying the show.

To sign up:

If you have any questions, please contact Shane Rugg, Vice President, South Metro Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever

Bird Flu Poses Unknown Threat to Wild Birds, Could Impact Summer Training

Excerpt from Pheasants Forever

“How will it affect fall populations?” “How susceptible are pheasants and quail to the disease?” “Does Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever have a role to play?”

All great questions, but unfortunately, there is little known about the disease regarding its impacts on wild upland bird populations in the United States. The role of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever is simple: keep delivering our mission of wildlife habitat conservation (remember, we’re a habitat conservation group, not the CDC). If our wild bird populations do become infected, we’re going to need quality habitat – and lots of it – to help populations recover.

Here’s what we can tell you:

The current avian influenza outbreak in the United States has affected over 35 million birds, the vast majority of which have been in commercial poultry operations. Over 240 individual outbreaks have been recorded in 29 states since January 2022, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The risk for human transmission remains low, as the CDC has only recorded one non-fatal case in Colorado.

The risk to wild birds is variable. As of May 1, there have been 899 confirmed cases in wild birds nationwide. Migrating waterfowl are often the culprits of transmission state-to-state, and their close proximity to one another also makes them much more susceptible. Of the confirmed cases in wild birds, snow geese are far and away the most common, followed by Canada geese.

Click here to read the entire article.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus was confirmed in wild geese in Northeastern Colorado on March 24, 2022. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is working with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Agriculture, and other agencies to monitor and respond to additional cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

What is Avian Influenza?
Avian influenza is an infectious disease of birds caused by a group of influenza viruses. These viruses naturally circulate in wild birds, such as waterfowl and shorebirds, which can carry the virus without showing any signs of disease. There are many strains of avian influenza, which are classified into two categories: low pathogenic (LPAI) strains which typically cause little or no clinical signs in domestic poultry, and highly pathogenic (HPAI) strains which can cause severe disease and potentially high mortality in domestic poultry.

Does Avian Influenza cause disease in wild birds?
Most wild birds that are infected with avian influenza viruses do not show signs of disease. However, HPAI strains can occasionally cause disease in some wildlife species including swans, diving ducks, gulls, geese, grebes, raptors, vultures, cranes and terns. In these birds, typical symptoms include swimming in circles, head tilt and lack of coordination. Game bird species such as turkeys, grouse, and quail may also be susceptible to HPAI with signs more similar to poultry such as swelling of the head, diarrhea, moving slowly, ruffled feathers, respiratory signs, and not eating. Some affected wild birds are found dead.

Click here to read more from Colorado Parks & Wildlife

Sept. 17-18 Minority Outdoor Alliance Training Event

The Pheasants Forever National office, The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and the Minority Outdoor Alliance all joined forces on a new outreach program to be piloted in 5 states.   Colorado was one of the five and South Metro Pheasants Forever was asked to spearhead the project here. 

On Sept. 17-18, 2022, nine members of various minority communities who were interested in learning to hunt and six minority members of the hunting community were hosted by Pheasants Forever volunteers at The Bluffs Hunt Club in Byers, Co.  The event was the first 2 day learn to hunt event done by the PF chapter.  Our guests were provided extensive training in gun safety, hunting techniques, and conservation on Saturday.  There was the extensive practice in gun handling and clay shooting in the afternoon. They were able to spend the night at the Bluffs lodge and enjoyed the hospitality of the Bluffs’ owners and each other.  New relationships were forged over some brews.  Sunday, our newly trained hunters were hosted for an actual hunt at the nearby Valhalla Hunt Club near the town of Bennett.   

PF volunteers provided pointing dogs, guides, and field safety officers for hunts over terrain that included wooded river bottoms and crop fields.   Our new hunters were able to combine their recently acquired skills to live bird hunting and do so safely with the added excitement of harvesting the game. 

Subsequently, some guests of this outreach participated in another hunt and even attended a PF monthly chapter meeting.  Everyone is encouraged that this type of outreach achieves the goals of introducing new participants to the sport of hunting and to conservation.

Private Land Fundraiser Hunt!

Congratulations to SDPF auction winning hunt teams of Doug & Wendy Heersink, Matt Sawyer & Natalie Wurzer, and Mark Campbell & Joe Nobles!

Total raised for both chapters was $6,425!

Ever wanted to have access to bird-heavy, private land in mid-Kansas? Here is that unique opportunity!

South Metro Pheasants Forever is partnering with Kansas PF Smoky Hill Chapter 424 for a two-day hunt on private lands near Hays, Kansas. Six hunters and an SMPF chapter representative will travel to Hays on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, and return on Sunday, Jan. 8. We will stay in a lodge and hunt on Friday, Jan. 6, and Saturday, Jan. 7. Pheasant (limit 4) and quail (limit 8) abound on the properties we will hunt. The property owners will hunt with us (they know where the birds are!). Note: in the event, we get snowed out, a secondary date of Jan. 19-22 will be held.

Auction details:

  • Bids are for a 2-person team and start at $1500/team ($750/person).
  • Each team of 2 hunters should have a dog
  • Hunt will be awarded to the highest 3 (2 person teams) bidders.
  • New bids must exceed the previous high bid (cannot bid for 2nd/3rd place).
  • All funds, minus expenses, will be split between the two chapters.
  • Auction will start on Sept. 10 at 8 am and close on Sept 24 at 5 pm.
  • Read details below on how to bid.

Hunters are expected to be experienced with hunting safely under a variety of conditions including blocking, covey rises, etc. All hunters are responsible for their own, and others, safety. 

  • Access to more acres than we can hunt in 2 days.
  • Lodging in a bunk style (1 room) building converted into a fully equipped lodge (not fancy).
  • A field lunch and simple dinner will be provided.
  • Dogs/kennels allowed in lodge.

Not included in the hunt:

  • Hunting licenses, dogs, shells (this is not an outfitters hunt).
  • Breakfast or snacks (fridges are on site so food can be stored as needed).
  • Drinks, water, personal items.
  • Transportation.
  • Motels nearby if preferred