Doug Smith
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Favorable weather conditions led to a 33 percent increase in the number of Minnesota pheasants compared to last year at this time, the DNR reported Tuesday. This year’s statewide pheasant index was 40.7 birds per 100 miles of roadside driven.

However, the 2015 pheasant index is 39 percent below the 10-year average and 59 percent below the long-term average.

Habitat loss continues to be the main factor in a long-term decline of the state’s pheasant population, according to the DNR.

“Habitat loss still poses serious threats to pheasant populations and other grassland wildlife,” said Nicole Davros, a DNR research scientist. “The short-term increase is good news that results from a mild winter and relatively favorable weather during the nesting season – conditions that led to increases in the roadside index for many farmland wildlife game species.”

Minnesota’s 2015 pheasant season begins Saturday, Oct. 10, and ends Sunday, Jan. 3.