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Pheasant numbers show improvement; Dayton in Mankato for hunting opener

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Gov. Mark Dayton will continue his tradition of participating in Minnesota's pheasant hunting opener this weekend. The governor is headed to Mankato to participate in his fifth Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener.

Previous events have been held in Montevideo, Marshall, Madelia and Worthington.

Dayton heads to Mankato Friday as the city will host events both Friday and Saturday to highlight hunting in the area. Visit Mankato says the area has 9,100 acres of public hunting land within 20 miles of Mankato.

Dayton, who says he has enjoyed pheasant hunting for 60 years, will host the Friday night banquet at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.

The banquet is open to the public, tickets are $35 per person or $60 for a couple.

Saturday's pheasant opener

According to WCCO, Dayton and his group will be hunting early Saturday morning, then will attend a land dedication at noon at the O.A. Vee Wildlife Management Area.

The outlook for pheasant hunting in Minnesota looks better than it has in recent years. The Star Tribune reported that pheasant numbers are up 33 percent from last year. Southwest, west-central and east-central parts of Minnesota have the highest counts.

However, officials and hunting enthusiasts remain concerned about the loss of habitat. Gov. Dayton and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr have been meeting with groups and leaders for the better part of a year to discuss the problem.

Last month, Dayton and Landwehr were in Nicollet County where they unveiled a 10-point action plan to try to boost habitat and the pheasant population.

Hunters can expect a warm and breezy pheasant opener. The National Weather Service is calling for a high temperature near 74 on Saturday and in the low 80's on Sunday in the Mankato area.

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