With population dwindling, state plans first-ever pheasant summit


With pheasant numbers rapidly falling, Gov. Mark Dayton and other stakeholders will convene for a pheasant summit to develop long-term strategies for increasing the population – the first such meeting in Minnesota.

Dayton's office announced the summit Friday, saying hunters, farmers and conservationists would be among those attending. It iwll be held after the conclusion of the pheasant hunting season, which runs from Oct. 11 through Jan. 4, 2015, but more information about the date and location will be released in the upcoming weeks.

“For almost 60 years, I have enjoyed pheasant hunting in Minnesota,” said Dayton said in the release. “But the decisions we make today will determine whether future generations of Minnesotans will have those same opportunities.”

A dearth of pheasants

The DNR, on its ring-necked pheasant page, says keeping a stable pheasant population in Minnesota is "difficult."

In 2013, hunters harvested 169,000 pheasants in the state, and only 62,000 pheasant hunters went out – the lowest numbers in 27 years for both marks, the Star Tribune reported.

This year's outlook is better. The DNR says hunting conditions should be better, and an expected 200,000 pheasants will be bagged (less than half what it was between 2005 and 2008). The agency also says the state's pheasant population index is 6 percent above where it was a year ago.

However, the population numbers are still low – 58 percent below the 10-year average, and 71 percent below the long-term average, the DNR says.

A big reason for this is the environment.

The Duluth News Tribune reports grasslands – the pheasants' habitat – have often been converted to cropland by farmers hoping to capitalize on market prices in recent year. The paper also says federal programs that encourage farmers to keep grassland areas have fallen behind.

The Star Tribune said Minnesota lost more than 100 square miles in the pheasant range of grassland habitat.

The DNR noted in early September said the loss of Conservation Reserve Program acres was a factor in the declining grasslands,

The DNR also cites extreme winters as a cause for pheasant die-off, but says this past winter's bone-chilling cold didn't hit the pheasant range as hard – meaning the survival rate of the birds wasn't as poor.

You can read the DNR's August Roadside Survey report here. The agency also provides a hunting prospects map, which you can see below.

This embed is invalid

Pheasants Forever, a group dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife, released a statement applauding the summit, calling it a "major step in the right direction." Dayton initially announced the summit at one of the organization's banquets, held Thursday.

“Wildlife habitat protection and creation takes collaboration," said Joe Duggan, Pheasants Forever’s vice president of corporate sales, "so we’re thrilled to see Governor Dayton bringing partners together from the state’s conservation and agricultural communities to find sustainable, long-term upland habitat solutions."

Next Up

Image from iOS (101)

Charges: Driver was drunk, speeding before crash that killed 1-year-old son

A total of five children were in the back seat at the time, according to the charges.

Jeff Gladney

Vikings release Jeff Gladney following domestic violence charge

His release is effective immediately, the team said.

Screen Shot 2021-08-03 at 3.28.56 PM

Body pulled from water near Lebanon Hills Park swimming area

Surveillance footage showed a man walking towards the beach on Sunday.

fire truck

Victims of double-fatal house fire in Wadena County identified

The man and woman died in the early Sunday house fire.

Screen Shot 2021-08-03 at 7.50.23 AM

Charges: Witness thought Austin man was 'joking' before he killed woman

The criminal complaint details what may have led to the 20-year-old's death.

Melvin Carter

Minneapolis and St. Paul to require face masks in city buildings

The mayors are also urging businesses to adopt mask rules for customers.


Charges detail murder of woman by fugitive bomb-maker husband

Eric Reinbold is accused of killing his 34-year-old wife.

Jeff Gladney

Vikings' 2020 first-round pick Gladney indicted by Texas grand jury

If convicted Gladney could be sentenced up to 10 years in prison.

face mask

List of places in Minnesota now requiring or recommending face masks

Businesses and organizations are changing their policies in response to the delta variant.

Minnesota State Fair - main gate day 2021

The 2021 Minnesota State Fair: Everything you need to know

From ticket prices to new foods to health protocols, we've got you covered.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Suspect steals unlocked squad car, leads officers on miles-long chase

The suspect also brandished a shotgun from the stolen vehicle out the window.