South Dakota pheasant numbers down, but hot spots remain

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PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Wildlife officials went digging to find the good news after South Dakota's annual pheasant brood survey showed a 17% decrease from last year, due mainly to an abundance of rain and snow in one of the premier bird hunting states.

The Game, Fish and Parks Department report shows the pheasant-per-mile count down 43% from the 10-year average.

However, Pheasants Forever State Coordinator Matt Morlock points out several potential hot spots in the report and says South Dakota "is still the No. 1 place in the world to go." Minnesota and Wisconsin are historically the top states for non-resident hunting licenses in South Dakota.

North Dakota, considered a top five state for pheasants, has dropped off in recent years but for different reasons. It has been hampered by drought and declining habitat.