ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has postponed this year's 10th annual state Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener due to COVID-19.

In a Tuesday, Aug. 4, news release from the state Department of Natural Resources, Walz said he decided to postpone the Oct. 10 event as the novel coronavirus continues to spread throughout the state, and health officials recommend avoiding large social gatherings.

This year's event was to take place in Fairmont, in south-central Minnesota.

Walz said that while the governor's opener is postponed, he still plans to hunt during 2020's pheasant season, which will span Oct. 10 through Jan. 3.

"I’ll be practicing safe social distancing, staying in small groups, and not traveling too far from home while doing so, and I encourage all hunters to do the same to slow the spread of COVID-19," Walz said Tuesday.

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DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in Tuesday's release that the department encourages hunters "to continue making (pheasant) hunting memories this year."

"Even though it may look a little different this year, we can still enjoy Minnesota's outdoors," she said.

Explore Minnesota director John Edman said that Minnesotans can still support the tourism industry by safely taking part in outdoor recreation.

"Minnesota's open spaces and outdoor experiences provide welcoming options, and along with increased safety and cleaning measures, can offer a sense of comfort and normalcy when it comes to exploring the state," he said.

The postponement of the governor's opener does not affect the regular hunting season. Minnesotans will still be able to hunt pheasants during the regular season: Oct. 10 through Jan. 3, 2021.