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The state of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, is currently accepting applications for their annual Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program.

The program encourages people to raise and care for pheasant chicks for eight weeks (or longer) before releasing them in hunting areas during the season.

The annual program, which began in the early 1900s, was set up to create better opportunities for the state’s pheasant hunters.

Now the program distributes around 40,000 birds annually at no cost to participants. There are a few requirements for an individual to participate which include proof that they have suitable brooding facilities, a covered outdoor rearing pen and access to a release site.

The land in which they are released cannot be private shooting preserves and must be approved by the DEC in advance.

Those applications that are successful receive their chicks from April to June and must look after them for a minimum of 8 weeks but cannot be kept past December 1st, 2014.

New York has a small active hunting community with 40,000 hunters who in 2002 harvested approximately 185,000 pheasants. The Day-old Chick Program therefore provides approximately 20% of the population harvested.

Whether or not this program could be replicated in other states however is debatable.  In 2012, the number of pheasants harvested in South Dakota was nearly one and a half million – nearly ten times the number harvested by New York pheasant hunters.

To achieve the same sort of results there would need to be an average of two chicks for every house present in the state, which is nearly one for every person. In comparison there is only a need for one chick in every 500 homes in the state of New York.

However, even a small contribution in a system like this might be a way forward to help stem the 64% population decline that pheasants have suffered.

What are your thoughts? Would this program work in South Dakota?

Let us know in the comments below!

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