Pheasant hunters will expect a better season when they see a significant increase in Minnesota's pheasant count.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, due to a mild winter followed by a warm spring, the pheasant population index increased 69% from 2011 and hunters are expecting to harvest almost 290,000 roosters this fall.
The harvest is up from last year's 204,000 but almost half the number taken during the 2005-2008 seasons.
"While the 2012 increase reflects movement in a positive direction, the counts still remain 51% below the 10-year average," said Kurt Haroldson, the DNR biologist who compiled the survey.
While the favorable weather worked in the birds' favor, their long-term success is more closely linked to habitat than annual variations in snowfall, rainfall and temperature.
"The state's pheasant population is linked more closely to quantity and quality of habitat than annual differences in weather," Haroldson said.
The pheasant population estimate is part of the DNR's annual roadside wildlife survey. The survey analyzes roadside counts of pheasants, gray (Hungarian) partridge, cottontail rabbits, white-tailed jackrabbits and other wildlife observes in the early morning hours during the first half of August throughout the farmland regions in Minnesota.
The highest pheasant counts were in the west central region, where observers reported 57 birds per 100 miles of survey taken.
Officials say hunters will find good harvest in portions of west central, east central and southwest Minnesota.
Posted to the web by Jenna Vogt