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As pheasant season approaches, MN DNR tracks loss of habitat

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Between 2008 and 2012, Minnesota lost nearly 200,000 acres of wetlands and surrounding buffers to agricultural conversion, and the Department of Natural Resources is tracking how that might affect bird hunting.

That's just one of the somber facts laid out by the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Dave Orrick, who has a twofold look what a loss of natural habitat might mean for pheasant hunting come October.

The piece starts with a look at the beginning of the 2013 Roadside Wildlife Survey, an annual count the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been doing since 1955.

Orrick goes on the hunt with the DNR to count pheasant, and reports a fascinating piece about conservation, wildlife and hunting.

In a side-bar, the PiPress accounts for some other statistics, such as:

From 2012 to 2013, Minnesota lost a net of 153,328 acres of habitat on private land enrolled in government conservation programs, according to the DNR and the Minnesota board of Soil and Water Resources. That's net loss; it accounts for new lands enrolled in such programs as old contracts expire.

The piece also notes the fact that on Aug. 5, a scarcity of livestock forage led Minnesota to open parts of 43 wildlife management areas - some 922 acres - to grazing and haying.

There's no telling what the numbers might be from year to year, but the DNR is tracking the count here for when the season starts Oct. 12.

Last year at this time, a Mankato Free Press reporter tagged along on the survey.

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