A major new project to improve upland game bird habitat in northern Malheur County was implemented in late summer 2006. This area was once home to abundant upland game bird populations, attracting hunters from all over the state and from out of state. “I’ve seen a tremendous decline in pheasants here since 1993,” said Ontario based ODFW district wildlife biologist Walt Van Dyke. “If we don’t do something about that soon, they’ll be at such low numbers there won’t be much of a hunting season. We need to do something to turn that around.”
Despite economic pressure on farmers to maximize production in an effort to turn a profit on local agricultural commodities, many landowners are still interested in improving habitat for upland game birds and other wildlife. However, the landowners are not certain how to get it done, or what financial assistance might be available. To address this need, an innovative and cooperative effort based on contributions from ODFW’s Upland Game Bird Stamp program, Access and Habitat program, and Pheasant Forever, Inc allowed Pheasants Forever to hire a habitat specialist, Brett Amdor. Brett is now working closely with local landowners and ODFW to improve pheasant and other upland game bird habitat on private lands. That will increase Malheur County’s game bird populations as well as hunting opportunities.
While Malheur County has good summer pheasant habitat, it has very little permanent winter habitat. This is a major limiting factor for the area’s pheasant population according to Van Dyke. Having Brett on the ground and willing to “work with landowners, the local agricultural community will see there is help and funds available to improve wildlife habitat,” said Van Dyke. Funding for the first 3 years of the project has been approved.
If you would like more information about the Malheur Habitat Initiative or you are interested in improving upland habitat on your land in northern Malheur County, please contact Brett Amdor.
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