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How does state determine pheasant numbers?

Editor's note: The following is the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' "Question of the Week" column.

Question: The DNR is in the process of determining the abundance of pheasants in the state's pheasant range. How is this number determined?

Answer: Since 1955, the Minnesota DNR has conducted annual roadside surveys during the first two weeks of August to estimate pheasant abundance. These surveys entail counting all pheasants observed while driving each of 152 survey routes - one to four routes per county - in Minnesota's pheasant range. DNR wildlife staff survey these 25-mile long routes in the early mornings on days with clear skies, light winds, and heavy dew. Because pheasants are difficult to count, techniques used to determine population estimates for other wildlife species do not work with pheasants. Thus, the annual August roadside surveys do not provide a total census, but rather an index of relative abundance. This information is then used to monitor changes in the pheasant population over time.

The results of the survey are reported in early September and provide a good forecast of the upcoming pheasant hunting season.

--Nicole Davros, DNR wildlife biologist