NEW LONDON -- Pheasant hunters in west central Minnesota will find fewer birds to chase this season, based on the annual, roadside counts conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in early August.
"Disappointing'' but expected, is how Jeff Miller, assistant wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in New London described what they found.
A harsh winter followed by a brutal, late season ice-storm, as well as abnormally wet conditions in June, took their toll on the birds, said Miller. The roadside survey conducted by the DNR wildlife staff found bird numbers down across the board.
The DNR is expected to release state-wide results of the annual roadside counts later this week.
Miller said the numbers of birds seen on routes in Kandiyohi, Chippewa, and Meeker counties, as well as the Lac qui Parle wildlife area, were down significantly from last year. Last year's numbers were not great either, so the population drop from a couple of years ago is notable.
Most telling of all, the majority of the birds that were spotted were lone males. They typically can out-compete hens and their broods when conditions are tough. There were very few chicks seen, he said.
The pheasant season opens Oct. 15.
Watch the Tribune for full details when the DNR's statewide report is available.