DES MOINES, Iowa — This year’s annual Iowa pheasant and quail population survey looks bad — a 30 percent drop in the average statewide pheasant population and a 23 percent decline for quail. But state officials say they believe the numbers are misleading.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials believe that unusually dry weather during the survey taken in August is to blame for the skewed numbers.

Upland wildlife biologist Todd Bogenschutz says surveyors need heavy dew the mornings of the survey to get accurate numbers. That’s because it’s the dew that causes hens to move their broods from cover to gravel roads to dry off. If there’s no dew, the brood stays hidden from surveyors.

Bogenschutz says he expects similar numbers this year to 2016’s pheasant season, when hunters harvested about 250,000 roosters.