Introduction of the Chinese ring-necked pheasant to South Dakota is one of most destructive examples of ecoterrorism in US history.
Not only has it heralded the eradication of habitat for native wild turkeys and grouse species this year's near eradication of pheasants is bringing an unsustainable hunting demand on waterfowl in the Prairie Pothole Region.
Staggering habitat losses have put at risk the state’s reputation as a ringneck Mecca. South Dakota lost 1.8 million grassland acres between 2006 and 2012, a sizable portion of which came from the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which pays producers to idle marginal cropland. As a result, pheasant numbers tumbled 30 percent from the 10-year average. Hunter participation and hunter harvest also have nose-dived. [Star-Tribune]A decade ago CRP acres were about 1.5 million in South Dakota but that number has plummeted as it has throughout the US.
If they initially qualified for CRP contract by plugging some wetlands, those wetland could qualify as mitigation acres, if the farmer doesn’t take the plugs out when the CRP contract expires. [Profit from wetland rules: Offer mitigation acres]The CRP program was thirty years old last year.
Pheasants don't eat grasshoppers but wild geese and turkeys sure do while the pesticide industry that greases Republican politicos don't give a shit about anything but profits. The reasoning is hardly mysterious: it's all about the money hunting and subsidized grazing bring to the South Dakota Republican Party depleting watersheds and smothering habitat under single-party rule.
South Dakota's experiment introducing an exotic species has just not been able to keep up breeding a bird unable to adapt to the state's brutal weather and climate science-denying legislature.
During the past weekend social media images of grinning white people with several thousand dead pheasants told a story of an industry on the wane even as some announced the sale of former ag land to out of state buyers promising wildlife restoration. Even children have been enlisted to remove the non-native bird from South Dakota grouse habitat.
Add the extirpation of apex predators, the resulting rise of mesopredators, increasing numbers of domestic dogs and cats then stir in a melange of industrial chemicals and climate change and voila! Red state collapse on parade.