Following the lead of South Dakota, Gov. Mark Dayton announced this week that Minnesota will hold the state’s first Minnesota Pheasant Summit to discuss the plight of the popular game bird.

The event will be held later this year. A location has not been set.

Minnesota’s pheasant population has plummeted in recent years, largely because of a decreasing amount of grassland habitat. Many farmers have converted grasslands to cropland to take advantage of high commodity prices. In addition, federal farm programs that promote grasslands have not been able to keep pace with farmland rental rates, so farmers have lost some incentive to keep lands in grassy cover that pheasants require.

The summit will include hunters, farmers, policymakers, conservationists and other stakeholders, the governor’s office said in a news release.

Although Minnesota’s pheasant population is up slightly this fall from last year, it remains 58 percent below the 10-year average and 71 percent below the long-term average, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

South Dakota held its first Pheasant Summit in December 2013 after reports last fall that the state’s pheasant population index had dropped 64 percent.

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