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Associated Press , Published October 12 2013

Minnesota, N.D., pheasant seasons open today

North Dakota's regular pheasant hunting season is getting underway.

The season runs from Saturday through next Jan. 5. Pheasants are big business in North Dakota — tens of thousands of hunters kill at least half a million birds in a typical season.

Hunters might find bagging a bird a bit tougher this year. The state Game and Fish Department estimates that the pheasant population in North Dakota is down about 30 percent from last year. Officials cite unfavorable weather earlier this year and the loss of pheasant habitat.

In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton has a full agenda today as he hosts the 2013 Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Opener in the south-central city of Madelia.

His schedule included a pancake breakfast at the American Legion, then a morning of hunting, followed by a dedication ceremony for land that's being made available for public hunting.

This will be Dayton's third governor's pheasant opener. Madelia bills itself as the pheasant capital of Minnesota, with 8,600 acres of public hunting land within 20 miles of the community.

Pheasant hunters got some food news Friday when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reopened the region's Waterfowl Production Areas to hunting after closing them due to the federal government shutdown. WPAs are important public hunting areas for waterfowl and pheasants alike. National wildlife refuges remain closed.

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