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Winter weather

Two mild winters in a row were not in the cards.

Iowa’s winter seemed mild through middle February, but March was the coldest since 1975 and snowiest since 1998, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship weather report for March. Only northwest Iowa had below normal snow fall amounts.

Statewide, Iowa received an average of 31.3 inches of snow from Dec. 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013, an increase from 17.4 inches for the previous winter.

What does that mean for Iowa’s pheasants?

In years following similar amounts, there was little improvement in pheasant numbers. The next critical time period is spring nesting season.

If April and May are above normal for temperature and normal to below normal for rainfall, pheasant counts may increase. If temperatures are below normal and rainfall is above normal, pheasant counts are likely to decrease.

While this is a statewide perspective based on weather and population change, the northwest region with below normal snowfall is an area where increases could be expected with a good spring.

Ospreys return

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will place 10, 42-day-old ospreys at Mud Lake, in Dubuque County, and Swan Lake, in Carroll County.  The young ospreys are developed enough to tear apart their favorite food, fish, by themselves, and will be attaining flight status about 53 days of age.

“Where the birds learn to fly and fish on their own becomes their ‘home’ where survivors return to nest at four or five years of age,” said Pat Schlarbaum, wildlife technician at the Boone Research Station.

Last year, 18 nesting pairs had 14 successful nest attempts with 32 young produced.  Since 1997, 249 ospreys have been released at 12 sites.

Wild osprey pairs have returned from overwintering sites in Central and South America and re-establishing nest sites throughout Iowa. Since 2003, 72 wild ospreys have been produced at 38 successful nests.

A release site at Spirit Lake has a camera on one of their two nesting pairs at http://dickinsoncountyconservationboard.com/osprey-camera/

DNR sale

DES MOINES – The Iowa DNR will hold the 2013 spring auction on May 4, at Jester Park Equestrian Center, 11171 NW 103rd Court, Polk City.  Doors will open at 7 a.m., and the auction will begin at 8 a.m.

The public may view the items for sale and pre-register for the auction from 3 to 6 p.m., on May 3. There will not be any buyer’s premium fee added to the sale. Items up for auction only include about 700 firearms, bows and tree stands, traps and related gear. No other equipment will be sold.  The items are sold “as is” with no guarantee or warranty.

Any person interested in purchasing a firearm at the auction must have either a valid Iowa permit to acquire pistols or revolvers, a federal firearms license, or a professional or non-professional permit to carry concealed weapons.  The Iowa permit to acquire can be obtained from a sheriff’s office.  Allow two to three weeks to receive the permit.Payment must be made on auction day.  A ll sales are final.  All items must be removed from the site within one half hour after the sale completion.

The Iowa DNR reserves the right to reject any bids and withdraw any item from the sale at any time.

A sale bill is available online at http://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting.aspx and will be updated if inventory is added.  The DNR will not be mailing any sale bills.

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