Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr announced Oct. 11 that a new ring-necked pheasant critical habitat license plate will be available later this fall. The announcement was made during the banquet at the third annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, hosted by the city of Madelia.
The critical habitat plate was created in 1995 as a way for Minnesota citizens to voluntarily contribute to conservation and show that commitment with a special outdoor-themed vehicle license plate. More than 100,000 Minnesota vehicles have critical habitat license plates, with the 2002 loon plate being the most popular. These plates generate about $3.5 million per year. They have generated more than $44 million for habitat conservation since the program began.
Landwehr thanked those who have already purchased loon, deer, showy lady slipper, chickadee or fishing license plates. He said he looks forward to seeing a fresh hatch of pheasant plates on the road as well.
“Motorists who have purchased habitat plates have helped wildlife in every corner of the state,” Landwehr said. “They have funded wildlife management area acquisitions, trout stream easements and helped support loons, eagles, rare plants and many other species. The new pheasant plate will help us preserve some of our rapidly disappearing grasslands – which are critical to the future of pheasants,” he said.
The new pheasant plate is an adaptation of the 2007 Minnesota pheasant stamp by renowned Minnesota artist Joe Hautman. Landwehr said license plate revenue will be used, in part, to support pheasant and other grassland species through Minnesota Prairie Plan habitat acquisition.
The printing of the new plates will begin this fall. The DNR will announce when they are available at local deputy registrar offices, online, and other vehicle license outlets. Limited numbers should be available in about a month.
The critical habitat plate requires a contribution of at least $30 per year more than a standard plate. There is also a one-time fee of $10 the first year for plate transfer costs. Contributions go to the DNR and are matched equally with private donations of land or cash to buy and manage important natural habitats which are preserved as public lands and are open to compatible public use, like hunting, hiking and wildlife watching.
More information can be found online. Critical habitat license plates can be purchased anytime or when renewing a car or truck license through the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.