SCOUTING YESTERDAY: South Dakota's pheasant populations wiped out by poisoned grasshoppers
This week in South Dakota history: Sept. 20-26
The Lead Daily Call reported on Sept. 20, 1923, local pheasant numbers are likely to be lower after being poisoned by grasshoppers sprayed with pesticide. Pheasants were reportedly thick in the Belle Fourche area until the grasshoppers were killed off and eaten by the birds. A local rancher estimated he had between 300 and 400 dead pheasants on his property a year earlier after grasshoppers were sprayed.
At the time, pheasants were only recently becoming numerous in the area following their introduction to South Dakota. First introduced to North America in 1733 in the New England area, pheasants didn’t gain a foothold until 1881 when they were introduced in Oregon, according to South Dakota Public Broadcasting. South Dakota’s pheasant population is traced back to a 1908 release in Spink County on H.A. Hagman’s farm north of Redfield.
Dr. A. Zetlitz released pheasants in the Sioux Falls area beginning in 1909, according to the Argus Leader. Zetlitz saw that the prairie chicken populations were dwindling and was confident that pheasants could thrive in the area. Raising six pairs on a 10-acre tract at his farm south of Sioux Falls, the birds were released and, although protected from hunting until 1915, all but one were killed by hunters.
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