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Wildlife officials say results of a roadside brood count indicate a decline in number of ring-necked pheasants in North Dakota.

The prehunt pheasant population is down about 15 percent from 2003, said Stan Kohn, upland game biologist with the state Game and Fish Department.

Brood observations statewide were down 7 percent from last year, and average brood size was down 14 percent.

"We must remember that we are comparing 2004 production data to last year when a bumper crop of pheasants led to a record harvest," Kohn said.

North Dakota hunters harvested 592,000 roosters last year. The average harvest over the last decade was 329,000 birds, Kohn said.

Cool, wet weather during the peak of the hatch in mid-June likely caused chick mortality, Kohn said.

The northwest corner of the state showed the biggest decrease in pheasants at 44 percent, Kohn said.

The southeast corner of the state showed an increase of about 35 percent, he said.

The 2004 season opens Oct. 9 and continues through Jan. 2, 2005. Limits are three roosters daily and 12 in possession.

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