Minnesota pheasant count down by half

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Minnesota pheasant count down by half

Duluth Tribune

Minnesota pheasant counts are down 50 percent from last year because of a harsh winter and a wet spring, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported Tuesday.

"To sum it up, hunting prospects for Minnesota pheasants... are poor to fair this fall,'' said John Giudice, wildlife research biologist with the DNR's Farmland Wildlife Population and Research Group in Madelia, Minn.

Giudice, who supervised the DNR's annual August roadside survey, said this year's counts were 35 percent below the five-year mean (1996-2000).

The most severe pheasant population declines were in southern and west-central Minnesota, where winter cover -- namely wetlands and wild grasses -- is more sparse because of intensive farming. Populations in east-central and central Minnesota remained above the five-year mean.

Despite the statewide decline in pheasants, fair densities (25 to 49 birds per square mile) can be found in portions of east-central, southwest and central Minnesota.

Above-average precipitation in April and May resulted in low nest success and may have delayed nesting.

"Fortunately the hot, dry conditions in late June and July were excellent for brood-rearing and re-nesting,'' Giudice said.

Pheasants are persistent re-nesters if initial attempts fail and hens are in good condition. As a result, there could be more pheasants this fall than the August counts indicate.

Giudice estimated that pheasant hunting prospects should be similar to those in 1997, when hunters harvested 248,000 roosters. He expects hunters to shoot about 275,000 this year.
 


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