The DNR communications team works with agency experts to develop the weekly questions and provide the answers. This feature addresses current DNR issues, interesting topics, or the most frequently asked questions from around Minnesota.
Q: How does the DNR estimate the state’s pheasant population?
A: Since 1955, the DNR has conducted annual roadside surveys during the first two weeks of August to estimate pheasant abundance. DNR wildlife and enforcement staff count all pheasants they see while driving each of 154 survey routes – one to four routes per county – in Minnesota’s pheasant range. Staff survey these 25-mile long routes in the early mornings on days with clear skies, light winds and heavy dew.
Because pheasants are difficult to count, techniques used to determine population estimates for other wildlife species don’t work with pheasants. The annual August roadside surveys do not provide a total census, but rather an index of relative abundance. This information is then used to monitor changes in the pheasant population over time. The results of the survey are reported in early September and provide a good forecast of the upcoming pheasant hunting season.
Nicole Davros, DNR upland game project leader