Larry Kurtz is right: Governor Dennis Daugaard's Pheasant Habitat Summit in Huron yesterday was an exercise in absurdity. Daugaard spent time and money gathering hundreds of South Dakotans to fret and stew over the decline of a non-native species caused largely by his own industrial agricultural policies.

Strategic Conservation Solutions logoThe logo of the consulting firm brought in to speak to the issue says it all: one little sprout of green struggling up amidst rigid lines of row crops and pavement.

Larry links and adds his links to an excellent Iowa Public Radio report explaining how the decline of pheasants is all our fault:

As farmers across the Midwest have simplified the landscape and plowed up grassland to grow more corn and soybeans, habitat for pheasants, quail and other grassland birds has become increasingly scarce and their numbers are falling. In Nebraska, wild pheasant concentrations have fallen 86 percent since their peak in the 1960s. The pheasant harvest during hunting season in Iowa is off 63 percent from the highs reached in the 1970s. In areas that used to be overrun, you’ll struggle to find a pheasant now. [Grant Gerlock, "Pheasants Losing Habitat to Farmland," Iowa Public Radio, 2013.12.03].

Not hard to figure out, Dennis. Promote huge monoculture farms and ethanol over small, locally sustainable agriculture, and you're going to have fewer pheasants. And I didn't have to spend any tax dollars to come to that conclusion.