DNR: High pheasant numbers this year following drier spring, summer

DNR: High pheasant numbers this year following drier spring, summer Photo: Photo: MGN Online.

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: September 08, 2020 01:44 PM
Created: September 08, 2020 01:32 PM

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says pheasant numbers this year are booming compared to last year, meaning hunters can expect to see more birds when the season opens on Oct. 10.

The DNR said its annual roadside pheasant survey showed a 42% increase in the state pheasant index from 2019 and a 37% increase over the 10-year average. That includes a massive 146% increase over last year in southwestern Minnesota.


“The weather this spring and summer was favorable for pheasants and enabled more hens to raise chicks, which drove the increase,” said Tim Lyons, DNR upland game research scientist. “We didn’t get hit by spring snowstorms or heavy rainfalls like in 2019 and that really is what let hens nest earlier and be successful.”

“Successful nests earlier in the breeding season also means that chicks will be in better shape going into the fall and winter, which can improve their odds of survival,” Lyons added. The peak pheasant hatch was approximately four days earlier than average this year.

Weather and habitat are the main influences on Minnesota’s pheasant population trends, according to the DNR. The drier weather is believed to have been a big help this spring and summer.

The DNR said this year’s statewide pheasant index was 53.5 birds per 100 miles of roads driven, and all regions of the pheasant range reported an increase in pheasant counts. The southwest, west-central, central and south-central regions all reported more than 50 birds per 100 miles, the DNR said.

You can find more information on pheasant hunting on the DNR's website.

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