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News from The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
For more information: Gabrielle Done, (518) 402-8000


Pheasant Raising Programs Bolster Hunting Opportunities

ALBANY, NY -- (09/13/2004; 1500)(EIS) -- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today announced that approximately 25,000 adult pheasants will be released on lands open to public hunting for this fall's pheasant hunting season. The pheasant hunting season begins on October 1, 2004, in northern and eastern portions of New York; October 18, 2004, in central and western portions; and November 1, 2004, on Long Island.

"DEC's pheasant programs enhance hunting opportunities across the State and we expect another great year of pheasant hunting for sportsmen and sportswomen," Commissioner Crotty said. "I strongly encourage pheasant hunters to review hunting regulations and safety guidelines before any hunting trip to ensure a safe and productive season."

The pheasants were raised at DEC's Reynolds Game Farm in Ithaca. The majority of the pheasants will be released on State wildlife management and cooperative hunting areas prior to and during the fall hunting season. All release sites for pheasants provided by State-funded programs are open to public hunting. A list of statewide adult pheasant release sites can be found by visiting the Department's website at: ml

Two popular cooperative pheasant rearing and release programs, the Day-old Pheasant Chick Program and the Young Pheasant Release Program, provide additional opportunities for pheasant hunters. Birds from these programs are released before the season opens and dispersed widely, presenting a greater challenge for experienced hunters. Anyone interested in raising and releasing pheasants to expand next year's hunting opportunities should contact the Reynolds Game Farm at (607) 273-2768.

The Day-old Pheasant Chick Program, developed in the early 1900s, provides day-old pheasant chicks to cooperating 4-H groups and sportsmen and sportswomen. The chicks are distributed to applicants in May and June and cooperators incur all costs associated with rearing the birds, including feed, water, utilities and facility construction. This year, over 64,000 pheasant chicks were distributed Statewide.

The Young Pheasant Release Program was developed in 1992 with assistance from organized hunters. Pheasants seven to 10 weeks old are distributed to cooperating groups and landowners for release at pre-approved sites from June through August. The cooperators provide a release pen and make food and water available for two weeks following the pheasants' release, allowing the birds to become acclimated to their new surroundings. Approximately 15,880 young pheasants were released on 397 sites this year. A list of these sites is available from DEC regional wildlife offices.

Hunters who plan to use private lands should ask permission from the landowner. In addition, hunters are also encouraged to hunt with a trained bird dog to improve their chances of finding pheasants and locating downed game.

In June 1999, DEC officially adopted a 10 year management plan for ring necked pheasants in New York. The plan includes activities for wild pheasant management to ensure healthy populations of pheasants and meet public desire for pheasant conservation, education, and hunting opportunities. A summary of the plan can be viewed online at

Boundaries for pheasant hunting zones conform to Wildlife Management Units used for management of other upland wildlife. Hunters should review the 2004-2005 New York State Hunting & Trapping Regulations Guide for complete regulations and other important information before going afield. Wildlife Management Unit boundary descriptions can also be found on DEC's website at:

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