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State aims to revive pheasant numbers with 10-point plan

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A 10-point action plan unveiled by Gov. Mark Dayton Monday will guide Minnesota's effort to boost its pheasant population.

Dayton and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr were in Nicollet County to unveil the plan before a local conservation club.

Increasing habitat for the birds on both private and public land is at the heart of the plan. The DNR says the loss of habitat to development and farming is the biggest reason Minnesota's pheasant numbers are nearly 60 percent below their long-term average.

As the Mankato Free Press reports, the initiatives in the plan include enrolling more acreage in conservation programs, acquiring more public land for hunting, and improving management of roadside land.

Gov. Dayton said in a statement he's enjoyed pheasant hunting in Minnesota for 60 years, adding: “The decisions we make today will determine whether future generations of Minnesotans will have those same opportunities."

Reversing the decline in pheasant numbers is a long-term project. Some parts of the plan will be ongoing – more education and research, for example – but it also includes some that will be measured over the next four years.

One of those is an effort to create large blocks of habitat. The DNR is looking to create 9-square-mile areas where 40 percent of the land is protected for pheasants and other wildlife, the Star Tribune notes.

No specific cost of the pheasant initiative was offered Monday, but Landwehr tells the Free Press it will take hundreds of millions of dollars. Some of that, he said, will come from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which uses state sales tax revenue to improve wildlife habitat. Some will also come from federal grants, Landwehr said.

Monday's plan builds on a pheasant summit Gov. Dayton convened in Marshall last December.

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