Visual display of the Aldo Leopold papers : 9/25/10-3 : County, State and Foreign Files

				
 
History Of The Chinese Ringtail Pheasant 
 
 
  The pheasant hunting enjoyed in 
South Dakota today is the result of 
an investment of less than $20,000.00 
in the purchase of the stock. The first 
pheasants were introduced into our 
state in 1912 when about 300 birds 
were released by the Game Depart- 
ment. During 1912 and 1913 a number 
of birds were purchased with funds 
contributed by a group of sportsmen, 
but the real program was not started 
by the Department until in 1914 when 
some 2,000 birds were purchased. Dur- 
ing 1915 another 2,000 birds were lib- 
erated. In 1917, 1918 and 1919 small- 
er purchases were made and in all, 
approximately 7,000 birds were pur- 
chased. From this original stock, the 
birds have increased to such an ex- 
tent that It is conservatively esti- 
mated that approximately two mil- 
lion birds were taken by licensed 
hunters during the open season of 
1927 and 1928. Unfavorable weath- 
er conditions somewhat reduced the 
kill in 1929, it being estimated that 
about one million were taken. 
  In 1930 the kill was estimated at a 
million and a half. In 1931, due to 
 
 
        Take A Boy Along! 
  Here is 14 year old Gerald Brady of 
Marion with his first pheasant, 1939 
season. If some of you old-timers 
need a companion some time, take a 
boy along! 
 
 
the grasshopper scourge in     South 
Dakota, it was deemed advisable to 
place restrictions on bag limits and 
length of season, and as a result not 
to exceed one million birds were legal- 
ly taken. In 1932 birds were more 
abundant than for two or three prev- 
ious seasons but much less hunting 
was indulged in, presumably because 
of economic conditions. Lack of funds 
prevented many from     indulging in 
hunting as extensively as usual. We 
estimate that approximately the same 
number of pheasants were killed as 
during the fall of 1931. 
  An estimate of the 1933, 1934, and 
1935 seasons' kill of pheasants ranges 
from 1,500,000 to 2,000,000. In 1933 
a split season (two 14-day periods) 
proved attractive to hunters and fully 
2,000,000 birds were legally taken. 
In 1934 and 1935 the kill is estimated 
at 1,500,000. This annual take has not 
appreciably reduced the state's stock 
of pheasants in spite of the fact that 
drouth   and  grasshopper invasions 
have resulted in almost total crop 
failures throughout the state. There 
was a slightly greater kill In 1936 
than in 1935. As to the total kill of 
pheasants during the season of 1937, 
during a normal season at least one 
and one-half million birds are legally 
taken, but we are confident that not to 
exceed 5% of this number were taken 
during the fall of 1937, due largely to 
the severity of the winter and a lack 
of normal food supply on account of 
successive crop failures.   Approxi- 
mately one and one-half million birds 
were taken each open season in 1938 
and 1939. The anticipated kill for 
1940 is over two million birds. The 
length of season varies in the several 
counties, based on the abundance of 
birds. 
  Since the winter of 1926, the South 
Dakota Game Department has, through 
trapping operations, transferred ap- 
proximately 25,000 pheasants into sec- 
tions of the state into which pheasants 
were not originally introduced. 
  It is highly desirable and very Im- 
portant that discretionary authority 
be vested in a Game Commission so 
that desirable regulations governing 
 
 
upland shooting may be had to fit ex- 
isting conditions. 
  The pheasant, like many other good 
things, can become a pest if not prop- 
erly controlled and once this bird 
gains a foothold there is little danger 
of extermination. The danger lies in 
that he might multiply to such an ex- 
tent as to prove detrimental to farm- 
ing operations. We have had some 
trouble in this respect in South Da- 
kota and the trouble we have had has 
been due to the fact that in first de- 
claring an open season on birds, the 
regulations did not permit the taking 
of a sufficient number of birds to 
keep them within reasonable numbers. 
Those who have made a study of the 
habits of the pheasant have ;been con- 
vinced that as an insect eater he is 
far more beneficial than destructive 
to  agriculture and, as previously 
stated, if controlled he is a real friend 
to the farmer. 
  It is generally conceded that South 
Dakota pheasants are perfect speci- 
mens of the species, which fact we 
attribute largely to climatic conditions 
  See "History of Chinese Pheasant" 
       Continued on Page 10 
 
 
          -Photo by Bert Popowski 
  South Dakota's Ringneck Hunting 
Leads the World! 
 
 
SOUTH DAKOTA CONSERVATION DIGEST 
 
 
PAGE ONE 
 
 
SEPTEMBER, 1940