Clubs urged to participate in pheasant chick and egg program

Harrisburg — Sportsmen’s organizations with approved propagation
facilities can augment local ring-necked pheasant stockings and
increase localized recreational hunting opportunities by raising
day‑old pheasant chicks supplied free-of-charge by the Pennsylvania
Game Commission.

Applications to participate can be downloaded from the agency’s
website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), by clicking on “Self Help,” then
“Forms & Programs” and then selecting “Pheasant Chick & Egg
Program.” In order for Game Farm superintendents to plan and set
hatches to accommodate requests, the Bureau of Wildlife Management
must receive completed applications by March 31.

“To restore self-sustaining and huntable pheasant populations,
the Game Commission is committed to creating Wild Pheasant Recovery
Areas, as outlined in our pheasant management plan,” said Calvin W.
DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director.
“While we strive to create these areas, we continue to urge
interested clubs to participate in our pheasant chick and egg
programs, which provide wonderful opportunities to get young people
involved in raising birds. In addition to learning about the food
and habitat requirements of pheasants, they’ll have the chance to
see the chicks mature into adult game birds, and to help increase
hunting opportunities.”

In 1929, the Game Commission began the propagation of pheasants
on an extensive scale with the establishment of two game farms.
Over the next six decades, to off‑set the increasing demand for
pheasants from hunters, three other farms were placed into
operation, and the day‑old pheasant chick program was implemented
and made available to sportsmen’s organizations, 4‑H clubs,
farmers, and other cooperators for rearing and releasing on areas
open to public hunting.

In 1959, the number of pheasant chicks distributed to
cooperators reached 229,685, an all-time high, in addition to the
more than 88,500 pheasants raised and released by the agency at its
four game farms. Unfortunately, cooperator participation has
dwindled significantly over the last few decades. In recent years,
only a dozen or so clubs have participated; raising and releasing
3,000-4,000 birds.

Because of budgetary constraints, the Game Commission was
forced, in 2005, to reduce its annual pheasant stocking allocation
from 200,000 to 100,000. The Game Commission released 100,000 adult
birds again this past season, and expects to keep pheasant
production at 100,000 until additional financial resources are made
available. However, as part of the agency’s pheasant management
plan, the agency intends to increase that stocking effort to
250,000 birds, should increased funding become available.

DuBrock said that the agency provides, free of charge, day-old
pheasant chicks to clubs entering into an agreement with the Game
Commission to raise birds and promote recreational hunting on lands
open to public hunting. Gender is not determined as the chicks are
boxed for distribution, but are generally at a one-to-one
male/female ratio. The number of chicks received depends on the
size of the club’s facility. The agency will provide enrolled clubs
with plans for a brooder building, covered pen, and guidelines for
rearing pheasants.

“The agency also offers enrolled organizations technical
assistance and advice at the club’s facility, and a training
session and overview of agency game farm operations can be
scheduled during the off‑season from January through March to
assist in development of the club’s program,” DuBrock said.

To be eligible to receive pheasant chicks, a sportsmen’s club is
required to have a minimum of 25 square feet of covered pen space
available per bird. In addition, 72 square inches of floor space
per chick is recommended in the brooder building. All feed and
expenses incurred in the work of constructing covered pens and
raising pheasants will be the responsibility of the club. All
pheasants propagated by organizations must be released on lands
open to public hunting.

Pheasant chicks can be raised at the cooperator’s facility or by
a designated caretaker with the proper facilities.

“Youth who participate in raising birds can help release hen
pheasants in early September in areas where hens are protected from
hunting and where habitat is sufficient to provide food and cover,”
DuBrock said. “These birds can provide good dog training
opportunities and releasing hens early also provides additional
room in the pen to finish growing out the males for the hunting
season.

“Maximum recreational opportunities can be attained by releasing
male pheasants as close to the opening of small game season as
possible, and no later than the end of the second week of the
season.”

Game Commission pheasant hatches come off once a week during the
month of May, and the chicks for clubs will be scheduled into those
hatches. Game farm superintendents will send notification to
approved organizations when chicks will be ready for pick‑up.

The Game Commission requires a complete report of the production
and release results. Renewal applications will not be processed
unless a complete report has been filed for the prior year.

In addition to the cooperating sportsmen’s club program, the
agency also sells surplus day-old hen pheasant chicks and eggs in
lots of 100 chicks for $60, or 300 eggs for $180. Early requests
receive top priority and orders are processed until the last
scheduled hatch, which usually is the first week of June. While
day-old hen pheasant chicks may be purchased by anyone, pheasant
eggs will be sold only to licensed game propagators. Both eggs and
chicks must be picked up at the supplying Game Commission game
farm.

The pheasant is native to Asia. Recorded attempts to establish
pheasants in North America date back to the mid 1700s. These early
attempts were unsuccessful; it wasn’t until 1881, in the Willamette
Valley of Oregon, that pheasants first became established.

During the early 1890s, Pennsylvania citizens purchased
pheasants from English gamekeepers and released them in Lehigh and
Northampton counties. For several decades, many other small
releases were made across the Commonwealth to establish pheasants
for sport hunting.

In the early 1900s, the Game Commission set aside a special
appropriation of funds to purchase and propagate game. Pheasant
eggs were purchased and given to agency refuge keepers, sportsmen’s
organizations and private individuals interested in raising
pheasants. The first stocking of pheasants by the Game Commission
occurred by 1915.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *