“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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- Motels nearby if preferred
On Saturday, August 20th the Brekke Veterinary clinic and JPAW Training held a hunting (and other dogs too) rattlesnake avoidance clinic. Dr Jay is a Pheasants Forever member and contributor to our PF Journal of Conservation and an expert in the veterinarian care of hunting dogs.
From the pictures, you can see 2 different dogs with their owners approaching the snake cage. In the second set of pictures you can see that the dogs learned the avoidance lessons!
Good job JPAW training and Brekke Vet clinic and a special thanks from Gracie and Linc, the two successful graduates!
Fourteen 4-shooter teams had a grand time breaking clays at the chapter’s July 30 tournament at the Silver Creek Sporting Club in Kiowa.
Stay tuned for a wrap up and photos!
On May 25th, Oxy, STEAD school, Pheasants Forever and the Barr Lake team all partnered to provide protection and food for our bird friends of all varieties.
400 feet of nesting, berries and shelter were on the agenda for planting. First, the holes (185 of them) were dug. Six cubic yards of compost and mulch were used to make our new plants welcome as we tucked them into the ground. Our new residents- 35 Junipers, 60 each of chokeberry and sumac bushes were planted.
There were approximately 60 people present to do the planting -20 students and 5 adults from STEAD school, 30+ Oxy employees, the Pheasants Forever Habitat and outreach chairs, and a half dozen employees from Barr Lake.
All enjoyed the morning of connecting to each other, and to the wildlife that we are helping protect!
In partnership with Barr Lake and Oxy, SE Metro Pheasants Forever Chapter joined the national effort for “Hands-on Habitat”. This project highlighted dry lands habitat development in Barr Lake’s Educational Plots. Previously, the primary development has been with the pollinator plot. This project planting included planting rabbit brush and prairie dropseed plants. It also included a dry land seeding of a grass mix specifically designed by the National Pheasants Forever wildlife team. The mix included Blue Stem, Indian Grass, Switchgrass as well as several other native grasses.
Organized and led by Banquet Chair Kylie Alstrup, our South Metro Chapter hosted 16 women for a wildly successful Ladies Day wingshooting clinic and live pheasant hunt at Valhalla Hunt Club and Kennels. As the number of female hunters increases, so does our support and mentorship! We’re not sure who enjoyed themselves more — the ladies, the volunteers, or the dogs?!
We extend a huge thanks to Mike Mills and the Clay Connections Foundation for hosting our group at the Warren Watson Shooting Grounds, and for his expert coaching tips! Our female shooters were able to practice their skills before the live hunt.
We had 18 mentors and six dog handlers who helped with our day-long event. Our event would not have been successful without their passion and dedication!