Hunters can apply through Friday, Aug. 18, to be chosen for one of 125 permits for the 2017 Minnesota prairie chicken hunting season.
The nine-day prairie chicken season begins Saturday, Sept. 30, and is open only to Minnesota residents.
“Prairie chicken populations are tied to habitat, and their numbers rise and fall depending on the amount of grasslands and prairie on the ground,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Hunters will be charged a $4 application fee and may apply individually or in groups up to four. Prairie chicken licenses cost $23. Apply at any DNR license agent; the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul; online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense or by telephone at 888-665-4236. An additional fee is charged for orders placed online or by phone.
The hunt takes place in 11 prairie chicken quota areas in west-central Minnesota between St. Hilaire in the north and Breckenridge in the south. Up to 20 percent of the permits in each area will be issued to landowners or tenants of 40 acres or more of prairie or grassland property within the permit area for which they applied. The season bag limit is two prairie chickens per hunter. According to spring surveys, prairie chicken numbers this year are similar to the last several year. Last year, 111 hunters harvested 102 prairie chickens.
Licensed prairie chicken hunters will be allowed to take sharp-tailed grouse while legally hunting prairie chickens, but prairie chicken hunters who want to take sharptails must meet all regulations and licensing requirements for taking sharp-tailed grouse. Sharptails and prairie chickens look similar and sharp-tailed grouse hunting is normally closed in this area of the state to protect prairie chickens that might be taken accidentally.
Applications are available wherever Minnesota hunting and fishing licenses are sold and application procedures and a permit area map are available at mndnr.gov/hunting/prairiechicken.