ST. PAUL (AP) -- Hunting prospects for Minnesota pheasants and cottontail rabbits look good this fall, according to results of roadside wildlife counts recently completed by the Department of Natural Resources.
Minnesota's pheasant season opens Saturday, Oct. 14, and the rabbit season opens Saturday, Sept. 16.
Overall, the number of pheasants seen along the August roadside count routes was up slightly, but did not significantly change from 1999, said Kurt Haroldson, a wildlife research biologist with the DNR's Farmland Wildlife Population and Research Group in Madelia.
But there was a major shift in the regional numbers of pheasants, Haroldson said. Pheasant counts in the northern half of Minnesota's pheasant range were up 78 percent while those in the southern half declined 18 percent.
"The northern half of the pheasant range was able to capitalize on this increase and get off good broods this summer, but the wetter-than-normal conditions in the south and southeast hurt brood production there," he said.
The outlook for Hungarian partridge hunting is dim. The number of Hungarian partridge seen along the routes was down 56 percent from 1999.
Cottontails counted during the roadside surveys increased 30 percent from 1999. Survey results indicate that cottontail populations are at their highest levels since 1981. Jackrabbit numbers still remain at very low levels, however. The estimated 2000 population was 65 percent below the 15-year average and 82 percent below the 30-year average.
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