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  Friday October 24th, 2014    

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DNR extends pheasant season for 2004 (07/04/2004)
Minnesota's pheasant hunters will have additional hunting opportunities this year, thanks to a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) decision to extend the 2004 season through Dec. 31. Under the previous season framework, the 2004 season would have closed on Sunday, Dec. 19.

"The extended season will offer more opportunities for families and friends to hunt pheasants over the holidays, without harming pheasant populations," said Ed Boggess, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division policy chief. "While we recognize that some hunters did not favor this extension out of a concern for pheasants, the biology of pheasant populations supports this change, and the DNR has emergency authorities to close or reduce seasons if necessary."

The hunting season extension was requested by pheasant hunters and was supported by

DNR biologists and by Pheasants Forever.

Based on the best scientific information available, the extension should slightly increase harvest without affecting pheasant numbers during the following year, according to Kurt Haroldson, DNR wildlife biologist in Madelia. Although Haroldson said hen pheasants flushed by hunters from prime winter cover could experience some increased mortality, such mortality should be compensated by reduced winter mortality and increased nest success for the surviving hens. Both sexes of other small game species, such as grouse, are harvested and all small game populations can withstand some hunting mortality of females.

"We do expect a slight increase in hen mortality due to the extension," Haroldson said.

"But studies indicate that the additional mortality will not be enough to negatively impact future fall populations."

Studies of pheasant mortality from the 1940s, when hen pheasants were part of the legal bag, showed that pre-hunting season hen abundance declined when the previous year's hen harvest exceeded 45 percent, Haroldson said. Hen numbers increased when the previous year's hen harvest was less than 20 percent. Although hen pheasants cannot be legally harvested in Minnesota, the DNR estimates that 11 percent of hen pheasants are killed -accidentally or deliberately shot - during the hunting season.

"Using these studies, we expect that a moderate increase in Minnesota's pheasant season length will be sustainable and add some holiday recreation," Haroldson said.

More than 100,000 people hunt pheasants in Minnesota. This year's season will begin on Oct. 16. A small game license and a $7.50 habitat stamp are required. 

 

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