Saint Paul, Minn. – July 21, 2008 – Minnesota’s 2007-2008 pheasant harvest of 655,000 roosters is the highest-recorded total since 1964, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Pheasants Forever (PF) notes the critical role quality habitat has played in the ring-necked pheasants’ resurgence across Minnesota’s farm country.”Four out of the past five years have produced a harvest of over a half million birds in Minnesota, including the last three consecutive seasons,” said Matt Holland, PF Senior Field Coordinator. “Minnesota must be mentioned among the typical pheasant powerhouse states like South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. However, you’re only as good as your last acre of habitat work, and that challenge is never-ending.”
Last October, 79,677 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres expired in Minnesota alone, and over half a million more Minnesota CRP acres are slated to expire over the course of the next five years. “Quality habitat is the determining factor. We’ve made progress in Minnesota with one project, one program, and one acre at a time,” Holland said. “But it shouldn’t be a secret to any resident or non-resident hunter that harvest totals will decline if there is a continuing loss of habitat.”
Successful long-term habitat programs like the Minnesota River CREP and the Wetlands Reserve Program have added core wildlife habitat that pheasants and other wildlife populations have the ability to take advantage of in good weather years. Minnesota’s system of state Wildlife Management Areas and federal Waterfowl Production Areas also provide for access as well as habitat. “Credit for this progress goes to the decision-makers who have, and continue to, provide funding for conservation and to all the partners and landowners that make good programs work on their land,” Holland added.
Holland points to the new State Acres For wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program, called the Minnesota Back Forty Pheasant Habitat program, as evidence of landowner interest in conservation and wildlife habitat still being strong. Since the Minnesota SAFE sign-up began in April, over 10,000 acres have been offered for enrollment in the program, which is part of the continuous portion of CRP. Minnesota has been allocated 23,100 acres for enrollment in the Back Forty Pheasant Habitat program, which establishes small blocks of grassland (10-40 acres) and enhances existing habitats.
Since its first project in 1984, Minnesota’s 75 PF chapters, one QF chapter and 27,000 PF/QF members have completed over 21,500 projects benefiting more than 184,000 acres of wildlife habitat. In fact, Minnesota PF chapters have spent more than $33.7 million on habitat and conservation education in the state.
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are non-profit conservation organizations dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasant, quail, and other wildlife populations in North America through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness, and education. PF/QF has more than 129,000 members in 700 local chapters across the continent.
For additional information about Pheasants Forever, please visit www.PheasantsForever.org