Pheasant management

A male ring-necked pheasant stand in among corn stalk stubblesFirst released in Minnesota in 1916, the ring-necked pheasant is one of Minnesota's most popular upland game birds. It is a grassland-dependent species most commonly seen in rural areas near grassy fields and grain crops, such as corn.

Pheasant do more than provide recreational opportunities for hunters and birdwatchers. The habitat pheasants need supports many other species and provides floodwater storage, groundwater recharge, carbon storage and sediment filtration that improve the quality of life of all Minnesotans.

Help us update the pheasant action plan

Pheasant action plan

Cover from the published version of the current Pheasant Action PlanThe DNR's Pheasant Action Plan identifies goals, objectives and strategies to be implemented and identifies strategic issues that influence pheasant conservation. The plan's goals are to:

  1. Increase the amount of grassland habitat for pheasants.
  2. Maintain and enhance grassland habitat for pheasants.
  3. Increase opportunities for and participation in outdoor recreation related to pheasants and their habitat.
  4. Increase public awareness and appreciation of grassland conservation for pheasants and people.

The current Pheasant Action Plan grew out of the 2015 Pheasant Summit and its resulting action plan. That plan included five main points of focus:

  • Enforcing existing laws (buffers, roadsides, easements);
  • Iincreasing bonding funds for Wildlife Management Area acquisition;
  • Targeting funding to specific high-quality habitat areas through state, local and federal cost-share programs;
  • Increasing state and local funding; and
  • Creating competitive compensation for long-term/perpetual conservation practices.
Pheasant habitat

A habitat specialist and landowner discuss options in a meadow.Whether it's a large collaborative plan like the multi-organizational Prairie Conservation Plan or individual landowners stepping up to be stewards, conserving and enhancing habitat is an integral part of managing and maintaining pheasants in Minnesota.

Pheasant hunting
Two successful pheasant hunters hold up the birds they harvested.You don't need specialized equipment to hunt this popular bird. A dog helps tremendously in finding and retrieving birds. With or without dogs, small groups of two or three should hunt small places while large groups can tackle large fields.
Pheasants in Minnesota
A colorful ring-necked pheasant stands in fall prairie field.Originally from China, this colorful bird ranges over the southern half of Minnesota with the exeception of the bluffs and coulees in the driftless area of southeastern Minnesota. They breed and nest in grasslands but spend other parts of the year in both grasslands and cattail marshes near grain fields.
Pheasant research

Pheasant eggs in a grassland nest.The Farmland Wildlife Populations and Research Group is responsible for providing information needed to manage pheasants. Research biologists and scientists coordinate and interpret population surveys; conduct research projects that provide critical information; and provide technical assistance and information for DNR and the public.

Surveys that explore human dimensions – the attitudes, experiences and understanding of people – also are a part of their work.

Population monitoring
Thumbnail image of map showing population estimates of pheasants in Minnesota.Since 1955, monitoring pheasant population trends is part of the DNR’s annual August roadside wildlife survey. DNR wildlife managers and conservation officers in the farmland region of Minnesota conduct the survey during the first half of August. Pheasants are counted along 152 routes located in Minnesota's pheasant range. Data collected provides an index of species abundance and is used to monitor annual fluctuations and long-term population trends.

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