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To keep up with the demand from pheasant hunters, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife maintain a productive pheasant release program. The pheasants raised in the program are distributed throughout the region.

Production of these birds begins at Bob Oke Game Farm in Centralia. Formally known as Lewis County Game Farm, the facility collects approximately fifty thousand pheasant eggs each year. Their main goal is for an 80% survival and release rate.

Like common large scale poultry farms, the facility has automated incubators and hatcheries to support the raising of the birds. These also help in identifying underdeveloped eggs that could spread disease throughout the rest of the facility.

It takes 22 months for the pheasants to mature enough to be ready for release into the wild. During that time they are raised and allowed to roam outside in a free range pen which is covered to prevent the birds from escaping.

The program is essential in combating the declining local population of the popular upland bird. The decline has been blamed on numerous factors including poor weather and habitat loss.

According to Brian Calkins from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the pheasant population cannot sustain itself due to the wet springs and the lack of old style farming land. He also states that if it wasn’t for the facility or program there could be no hunting in the state.

There are two full time employees who oversee the game park at all times of the year. There are also three seasonal employees. These employees are supported by numerous volunteers who help to release the birds onto the game park lands and then support its maintenance.

The location of release is determined by where hunters prefer to be and therefore there is always a good supply of pheasants at these sites.

Do you think that raising birds in captivity is a good source for hunting? Is there another option?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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