Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pheasant Release Program Applications Due

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the opening of the application period for its cooperative Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program. This program enhances pheasant hunting opportunities through a partnership with DEC, sportsmen and sportswomen, 4-H youth, and landowners who are interested in rearing and releasing pheasants. Applications must be filed with a DEC regional wildlife manager by March 15, 2011.

Pheasants are a popular game bird since first successfully introduced to New York State in 1892 on Gardiner’s Island. A later release in 1903 on the Wadsworth estate, near Geneseo, truly established this Asian immigrant and helped popularize pheasant hunting in New York. Populations peaked in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the “heyday” of the ringneck pheasant. Today, wild pheasants are difficult to find. Most wild pheasants are found in the Lake Plains of western New York.

The Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program began in the early 1900s. In the early days, pheasant eggs and chicks were distributed to farmers and rural youth. Today, day-old chicks are available at no cost to participants who are able to provide a brooding facility, a covered outdoor rearing pen, and an adequate release site.

Approved applicants will receive the day-old chicks in April, May, or June. No chicks obtained through the Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program can be released on private shooting preserves, all release sites must be approved in advance by DEC and all release sites must be open for public pheasant hunting opportunities. The program is funded via license fees paid by hunters, trappers, and anglers.

Daily care is necessary to monitor the health of the birds and to ensure there is adequate feed and water for the rapidly growing chicks. The pheasants may be released beginning when they are eight weeks old and no later than December 1. Individuals interested in these programs should contact their nearest DEC regional office (please refer to offices listed below) for applications and additional
information.

In 2010, DEC distributed 51,267 day-old pheasant chicks to qualified 4-H and sportsmen applicants.

A new 10 year Pheasant Management Plan was adopted by DEC last year, a copy of which may be found on the DEC website.

One of the changes made in the new plan was the discontinuation of the Young Pheasant Release Program in which cooperators were provided with young pheasants 7-10
weeks of age that were released in temporary holding pens for two weeks while the birds acclimated to the surrounding habitat. Cooperators who in the past participated in the discontinued Young Pheasant Release Program are encouraged to consider participating in the Day-Old Chick Program.

Individuals in the Adirondack region interested in these programs should contact their nearest DEC regional office (listed below) for applications and additional information.

Region Five: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties:

1115 Route 86, PO Box 296
Ray Brook, NY 12977
(518) 897-1291

Region Six: Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida and St. Lawrence counties:

317 Washington Street
Watertown, NY 13601
(315) 785-2261

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