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DNR says Minnesota's pheasant population well above average
Associated Press
ST. PAUL - Good news for Minnesota's pheasant hunters.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that it appears the state's pheasant population is the highest in 20 years due to favorable habitat and nesting conditions in southern and western Minnesota.

During the August roadside survey of farmland wildlife, spotters counted 113 birds per 100 miles of driven, which was 75 percent above the 10-year average and similar to 2005, when hunters killed nearly 600,000 roosters.

Last year was the best for pheasant hunters in Minnesota since 1964, the DNR said.

"All the elements are in place for another very good pheasant hunting season,: said Dennis Simon, DNR Wildlife Section chief.

"A mild winter and good weather during this spring's nesting season allowed birds to take full advantage of more than 1 million acres of grassland habitat enrolled in farm programs and another 650,000 acres protected in wildlife management areas and waterfowl production areas," he said.

The DNR said the best hunting should be in the southwest, where observers reported 242 birds per 100 miles. Hunting also should be good in central and west-central Minnesota, where observers reported 113 birds per 100 miles.

On the downside, the DNR said survival of pheasant chicks this spring was only average.

Sharon Goetz, DNR wildlife research biologist said cold and wet weather from June 9-11, the peak time for Minnesota's pheasant hatch, could have hampered survival of the baby pheasants.

A key to increased pheasant populations is grassland habitat, Goetz said. Protected grasslands account for about 6 percent of the land within Minnesota's pheasant range, the highest since the mid 1990s, she said.

The annual roadside survey began in the late 1940s and was standardized in 1955. This year's survey covered 170 routes, each 25 miles long, with 151 routes within the ring-necked pheasant range.

Minnesota's pheasant season opens Oct. 14 and runs through the end of the year.


2006 August Roadside Report:

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