By STEVE KARNOWSKI | Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota's pheasant population has been on a long-term decline. Gov. Mark Dayton is hoping the first Minnesota Pheasant Summit this weekend can change that.

Saturday's gathering at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall will bring together hunters, farmers, landowners and government officials to strategize on a four-year plan to raise the pheasant population and improve habitat for the game birds. Organizers expect about 300 people to attend.

Habitat loss to farming and development is the main reason wildlife managers cite for the decline in Minnesota's pheasant numbers. The Department of Natural Resources says the population was up slightly this year but still 71 percent below the long-term average.

Dayton will speak, as will DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr and Agriculture Commissioner Dave Fredrickson.