Pheasant hunting permit sales fall short in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Game Commission now plans to buy 200,000 day-old chicks each year and raise them at two remaining game farms in the state. That stock, it's expected, will result in releasing about 170,000 pheasants for hunters to chase. (Pennsylvania Game Commission)

The Pennsylvania Game Commission had sold slightly more than half the number of $25 pheasant permits agency leaders had hoped to by the opening of pheasant season.

A commission spokesman reported that 34,425 pheasant permits had been sold as of Oct. 23, generating about $860,000 in revenue. That fell far short of the 60,000 permits commissioners said they wanted to sell when they created the special permit earlier this year.

It’s not clear whether lagging permit sales will impact the pheasant program going forward. With the new permit, commissioners had hoped to raise $1.5 million to defray the steep costs of the pheasant program. However, costs have been reduced.

The agency had been operating four game farms where pheasants were reared. In January, the Game Commission closed two of its pheasant farms and changed the program so that breeding stock is no longer maintained to produce eggs that hatch out the birds stocked each year.

The agency now plans to buy 200,000 day-old chicks each year and raise them at the two remaining game farms. That stock, it’s expected, will result in releasing about 170,000 pheasants for hunters to chase.

With the reduced pheasant program costs, selling about 35,000 stamps may be an acceptable start, according to press secretary Travis Lau.

“Stamp sales are not done yet – with the opening day behind us, we won’t see big jumps, but certainly more stamps will be sold,” he said. “And they have generated $860,000 we didn’t have before.”

Lau described the 60,000-stamp figure as not so much a target as an estimate that came from last year’s game-take survey results, in which 60,000 hunters reported that they hunted pheasants.

“It was sort of an educated guess based on the number of hunters that were out there last year,” he said.

“I definitely don’t call this a disappointment – nobody knew how many stamps would be sold. With all of the changes in the pheasant program, making the costs way lower, this revenue increases the likelihood of keeping the program alive. And it’s not something we want to lose – we have stocked pheasants for hunters for more than 100 years.”

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