2018 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener Talking Points

Note: Talking points are ideas to keep in mind when granting interviews to reporters. These are topics we choose to emphasize when discussing the MNGPHO events, the community, pheasants, pheasant hunting and the impact of tourism on Minnesota’s economy. This document is not for direct distribution to media.

About the Event

  • The eighth annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener is being held in Luverne on Friday, Oct. 12, and Saturday, Oct. 13. Gov. Mark Dayton initiated the event in 2011 with Montevideo as the inaugural host.
  • Previous events have been held in Montevideo (2011, 2016), Marshall (2012, 2017), Madelia (2013), Worthington (2014) and Mankato (2015).
  • The Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener highlights pheasant hunting opportunities in the Luverne area and southern Minnesota region. It also draws attention to the travel, retail, educational and cultural resources in the Luverne area.
  • Annual Minnesota Governor’s hunting opener events help put hunting, travel and tourism opportunities in the spotlight. 
  • The 2018 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener is coordinated by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in partnership with Explore Minnesota and The Luverne Area Chamber and CVB.
  • Reception and dinner:  The public is invited to attend the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener Community Banquet on Friday, Oct. 12, at Grand Prairie Events. Social hour will run from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by dinner and a program which will feature Gov. Mark Dayton, state agency leaders and local elected officials.
  • The Luverne community has done a tremendous job organizing this event and showcasing the assets that make it a regional destination for hunting and other travel activities.
  • Share your sights in Luverne using the statewide travel hashtag #OnlyinMN and Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener event hashtag #MNGPHO2018.

About Luverne, Minnesota

  • Luverne has a population of 4,658 and is the county seat of Minnesota’s southwestern-most county, Rock County. It is located at the junction of Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 75, approximately 15 miles from the South Dakota and Iowa state lines. The city actively promotes hunting, travel opportunities and outdoor recreation.
  • Rooster Ridge WMA, to be dedicated on Friday, Oct. 12, will be the newest parcel of public lands – Minnesota has 1.3 million acres of public lands.
  • Luverne’s rich cultural heritage is home to the Brandenburg Gallery, the Herreid Military Museum, and History Center.
  • Luverne is also home to a rich outdoor heritage, which includes Blue Mounds State Park and Touch the Sky Prairie.
  • Luverne was prominently featured in the Ken Burns epic World War II documentary “The War.”
  • More information about Luverne and Minnesota travel opportunities can be found at luvernechamber.com or exploreminnesota.com.

The pheasant and pheasant hunting in Minnesota

  • Tens of thousands of hunters will take part in the opening day of pheasant hunting.
  • Approximately 71,525 people hunted pheasants in Minnesota last fall, down approximately 7% from 2016.
  • An estimated 196,141 pheasant roosters were harvested in 2016, down from 243,176 in 2015. This was similar to 2011 levels.
  • Pheasant hunters harvested an average of 3.2 pheasants in 2016. That number is down from 3.8 in 2015, but above the 2014 level of 2.7 pheasants per hunter.
  • The state pheasant index shows an increase of 19 percent from 2017.
  • The 2018 pheasant index is similar to the 10-year average and 52 percent below the long-term average.
  • Loss of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres statewide is a concern, with up to 481,000 acres of grassland being lost by 2020 due to reduced spending on the program at the national level. 203,000 acres expired from the CRP program on Sept. 30.
  • Weather and habitat are the two main factors that drive Minnesota’s pheasant population trends.

The Importance of Hunting to Minnesota

  • Hunting is a longstanding tradition in Minnesota. Minnesota has nearly twice the hunting participation rates as the national average (11 percent vs. 6 percent).*
  • Hunting in Minnesota is enjoyed by more than half a million hunters each year.
  • Hunters spend $725 million each year in Minnesota in direct hunting-related expenditures (equipment, food, lodging, transportation, etc.). That is an average of $1,412 per hunter.*
  • Direct expenditures by hunters in Minnesota include:
    • $400 million on equipment such as guns, ammunition, vehicles, special clothes*
    • $235 million on trip-related expenditures such as food, lodging, transportation*
    • $ 90 million on other expenses (land-leasing, ownership, magazines, etc.)*
    • This money is spent at restaurants, motels, resorts, gas stations and other local businesses, contributing to the economies of many communities across the state.  There is the potential for significant economic impact on communities such as Luverne.
  • Since 2006, hunting expenditures were up about $436 million across the state.*
  • Economic impact of upland bird (pheasant, grouse, quail) hunting in Minnesota:
    • $121 million in retail sales
    • $210 million economic impact (total multiplier effect)
    • Supports 2,380 jobs

*Minnesota report of the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, provided by DNR, from ’06 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report

Grassland Preservation

  • Tallgrass prairie once covered one third of Minnesota, more than 18 million acres.
  • Today less than 2 percent of native prairie grassland remains and less than 1 percent is protected.
  • Prairie grassland protects fragile soils, improves water quality, retains carbon emissions and provides essential habitat for countless species of wildlife.
  • Minnesota is seen as a national leader in efforts to protect, restore and enhance prairie grasslands. 
  • The Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan has brought together 10 conservation partners who are coordinating efforts on a local and statewide basis.
  • This Prairie Conservation Plan uses science-based, targeted conservation to protect remaining prairie, grasslands and wetlands in the prairie region of western Minnesota.
  • Minnesota is fortunate to have citizen-supported funding from Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) and Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), as well as traditional license fees.

The Importance of Tourism to the Minnesota Economy

  • Travel and tourism generate nearly $15 billion in leisure and hospitality gross sales in Minnesota.
  • Travelers in Minnesota spend nearly $41 million a day.
  • Travel and tourism create jobs in virtually every county of the state. There are nearly 265,000 leisure and hospitality jobs in Minnesota, representing 11 percent of the state's private sector employment.
  • Leisure and hospitality generate $969 million in state sales tax (18 percent of the state's sales tax total).
  • Annual leisure and hospitality gross sales in Rock County (where the event is being held) were more than $10.7 million in 2016. 
  • Minnesota welcomes more than 70 million domestic and international travelers annually.
  • The fall travel season in Minnesota accounts for 25% of travel expenditures.
  • Outdoor recreation, including hunting, is big business, and is one of the main draws for visitors to Minnesota.

Sources: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Explore Minnesota