Pheasant index shows varied possibilities across state


When the Minnesota pheasant season opens on Oct. 12, hunters are most likely to come across some locations with lots of pheasants and other locations exactly where the birds will be tougher to come across, judging by final results of the Minnesota DNR annual roadside pheasant survey.

The roadside pheasant survey showed a 17 % reduce in the all round pheasant index this year from 2018. The 2019 index was 11 % under the 10-year typical, and 60 % under the lengthy-term typical. This year’s statewide pheasant index was 37.four birds per 100 miles of roads driven.

“Though some regional and statewide pheasant indices declined, there is nonetheless explanation to be optimistic,” stated Tim Lyons, upland game analysis scientist. “Birds are nonetheless abundant in some locations. But soon after a prolonged winter and wet spring, hunters may well will need to be choosier about exactly where they go.”

Uplands that escaped spring snowstorms and flooding, and include native grasses and wildflowers supplied the greatest possibilities for hens to nest and raise young. These locations commonly offer the greatest hunting possibilities as nicely. Hunters can use the DNR’s on the internet mapping tools to come across wildlife management locations, at, and the DNR Recreation Compass, at, to aid find state hunting grounds and private lands enrolled in the Stroll-in-Access system.

Hunting at the survey final results, the pheasant index decreased all through significantly of the pheasant variety, except in the south-central and east-central regions. There, the index grew by 24 % and 13 %, respectively, from 2018. The highest pheasant indexes had been in the west-central and south-central regions exactly where observers reported 43 to 49 birds per 100 miles driven. Hunting possibilities will also be very good in the southwest and central regions.

Climate and habitat are the primary influences on Minnesota’s pheasant population trends. Climate causes annual fluctuations in pheasant numbers, when habitat drives lengthy-term population trends.

Winters that linger can delay the begin of the breeding season and minimize the good results of early nests. Heavy rain, specifically at or just soon after hatching, can minimize chick survival.

This year, deep snow cover blanketed most of the pheasant variety in February and March. Snowmelt and rainfall in April and Could contributed to widespread flooding and estimated hatch dates indicate that nesting activity was delayed more than significantly of the pheasant variety. The variety-wide hatch date in 2019 was almost a week later than in 2018, and also a week later than the 10-year typical.

Conservation Reserve Plan (CRP) acres in distinct play a substantial part in offering habitat for pheasants in Minnesota. The system, authorized beneath the federal Farm Bill, pays farmers to eliminate environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and restore vegetation that will minimize soil erosion, strengthen water good quality, and offer habitat for wildlife and pollinators.

Minnesota’s 2019 pheasant season is open Saturday, Oct. 12, by way of Wednesday, Jan. 1.

Monitoring pheasant population trends is aspect of the DNR’s annual August roadside wildlife survey, which started in 1955. DNR wildlife managers and conservation officers in the farmland area of Minnesota conduct the survey in the course of the initially half of August. This year’s survey consisted of 172 25-mile-lengthy routes, with 152 routes positioned in the pheasant variety.

Observers drive every route in early morning and record the quantity of farmland wildlife game species they see. The information offer an index of species abundance and are utilized to monitor annual fluctuations and lengthy-term population trends of pheasants, gray (Hungarian) partridge, eastern cottontail rabbits, white-tailed jackrabbits, mourning doves, Sandhill cranes, and white-tailed deer.

For the 2019 August Roadside Survey report, a map of pheasant hunting prospects, survey information for other surveyed species, and data on hunting regulations and bag limits, go to the DNR pheasant hunting web page at


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