The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the editor: Plight of feathered friend

Wings emblazon with radiant colors, frequently pictured and hung on walls, Iowa’s pheasants are not doing well. In bygone days, harvester combines passed over crop fields leaving missed seed in the wake.  Nowadays, modern combines rarely leave behind kernels. Vast fields littered with chafed stalks and stubble offer a bleak place for pheasants to dine. As a consequence, pheasants are undergoing a trying passage through winter time.

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is set up to enhance natural resources. Farmers sign up for CRP. Depending on how many acres farmers put in CRP, an acre or more of the land must be sown with forge plants like corn, oats, and legumes for wildlife. Those wildlife plots have turned into oases, islands of nourishment among the empty rolling crop fields. Like a magnet, pheasants are drawn in, concentrating their numbers in one location.

Many farmers have sections of land scattered across a county. These farmers control access to numerous CRP wildlife plots. Unfortunately, the right to hunt on CRP ground is sold. Well-paying hunters are eager to venture out of their urban centers for a weekend of hunting.

spree of killing happens the first weekend of pheasant hunting season. Pheasants escaping this frightening fracas return within days to the only reliable food source, the CRP plot. The following weekends are repeats of the same, until pheasant hunting season ends. Rosters are aimed at, but hens suffer stress from rampaging dogs and blazing gunfire, too.

No wonder Iowa’s iconic countryside symbol is struggling. Between modern harvesters and some unethical farmers, the CRP plots have become trap sites for frenzied shooting.

One solution is a new rule, one forbidding farmers to double dip in profits. A farmer receives the government’s CRP payments, but with no hunting allowed.

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