Minnesota's pheasant hunting season kicks off this weekend, but hunters are likely to see fewer birds this year.
The state's pheasant population is down by about 30 percent this year over 2012.
Marrett Grund, a DNR researcher in southern Minnesota, says the extended winter and cool, wet spring were factors.
"The long-term downward trend is what we're most concerned about," she said. "We had bad weather conditions last year but this upcoming year if we have good weather conditions we'll have high survival and high reproduction and that would allow the population to rebound relatively quickly."
Grund says Minnesota farmers have been plowing up more grassland to grow corn and other crops because of high prices. He says the trend is expected to continue.
The DNR expects hunters will take about 246,000 roosters this year. Pheasants are mostly found in the southern half of the state, with the biggest concentrations found in southwestern Minnesota.
Governor Mark Dayton is planning to participate in the pheasant opener in Madelia in southern Minnesota.