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Published September 10, 2013, 08:36 AM

Minnesota pheasant index down 29 percent from 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A long winter followed by a cold, wet spring has contributed to a significant decrease in Minnesota's pheasant population.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A long winter followed by a cold, wet spring has contributed to a significant decrease in Minnesota's pheasant population.

The Department of Natural Resources says Minnesota's pheasant index declined 29 percent from 2012, reflecting trends seen in neighboring states. Minnesota's 2013 pheasant index is 64 percent below the 10-year average and 72 percent below the long-term average.

The DNR says habitat losses are the main reason for the long-term decline.

Minnesota hunters still are expected to harvest about 246,000 roosters this fall. That's down 44,000 from last year and less than half the number taken during the 2005 through 2008 seasons when pheasant hunting was exceptionally good.

The pheasant population estimate is part of the DNR's annual August roadside wildlife survey, which monitors annual changes and long-term population trends.

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