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The 2014-2015 winter was supposed to be a pheasant year for the state of Pennsylvania. However, they failed in their one major goal to capture birds and release them in the state as part of their pheasant recovery programs.

Their goal was to travel to South Dakota, the pheasant capital of the US, and trap 100 birds. These would then be transported back to Pennsylvania and released into a carefully selected wild pheasant recovery area.

The deal was reached with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department on the condition that South Dakota was able to claim the first 100 birds trapped. The South Dakotan and Pennsylvanian plan was thwarted when trappers failed to catch a single bird.

Ian Gregg, the supervisor for the commission’s game birds section, stated that the 2014-2015 winter was one of the warmest on record in South Dakota. This made it difficult for trappers, as pheasants don’t respond particularly well to bait.

The commission has agreed that they will attempt to trap another 100 birds next winter instead.

This scheme does have some opponents however. Some argue that the 100 birds will not be able to survive in a different area of the country and that 100 is too few a number to sustain a sizeable population. On the other hand, compared to the alternative of commercially reared pheasants, wild pheasants have a much stronger chance of successfully living long enough to rear the next generation.

Some research has stated that commercially bred pheasants will often die in the first winter from a combination of being unable to find shelter or food, predation or hunting. This makes the process controversial at best.

Also, South Dakota can’t afford to lose too many pheasants as they too are suffering from a pheasant population crisis.

Did the warm winter help your pheasant hunting? Do you think South Dakota should provide birds to other states?

Let us know in the comments below.


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