The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is once again distributing day-old pheasant chicks for rearing and release projects to qualified 4-H Youth. All state pheasants are hatched and delivered from the DEC Reynolds Game Farm, Ithaca. Parents, leaders, or other volunteers who are willing to oversee and assist youth with this project would be expected to first become familiar with the DEC's Cooperative Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program Guide and DVD. CCE-Steuben can provide you with a copy of the guide and the DVD can be loaned to you. The rearing and release of pheasant requires a great deal of responsibility by 4-H members and a substantial time commitment.
Release of Pheasants: All pheasants must be released before December 1 of the current year and on land open to public hunting. Pheasants cannot be released until they are 8 weeks old or older. This allows the growing birds time to acclimate to the environment in an outdoor pen. Birds should never be released to the outdoors directly from the brooding facility.
For those interested in starting a pheasant rearing program, there are a number of responsibilities the person overseeing the project should plan on. You would be responsible for reviewing program requirements, discuss rearing techniques, and explain project expectations with those youth that you are overseeing. You would also be responsible for inspecting rearing facilities and evaluate the release site before approving participating 4-H members to ensure proper rearing and release condition for the birds. Youth and the adult volunteer usually monitor progress together and share their experiences with other participants at 4-H meetings. The number of pheasants released is recorded at the end of the project.
In addition to the actual rearing project, leaders may choose to integrate other wildlife management strategies. Pheasants could be banded and released at different ages and on different sites to monitor mortality and survival. With landowner permission, habitat at the release site could be improved to benefit pheasants and other wildlife. Assistance from organizations such as Pheasants Forever is available to improve habitat. There are many opportunities to expand the rearing and release program to include additional wildlife conservation activities. Including these activities is left to the discretion of the project leaders. Cooperative ventures between local sportsman's clubs and 4-H youth are encouraged and at times may help reduce program costs.
If you are interested in this program you need to contact Kim at the CCE Office at 607-664-2571 and leave a message anytime of day or by email at email@example.com by Monday, March 19 to request the quantity of chicks you would like. The chicks will be delivered to Bath. Kim will contact those who ordered chicks with a delivery time and date, in the past it has been early afternoon on a weekday towards the end of May. DEC Reynolds Game Farm is maintaining a database of people who receive birds in case a voluntary avian influenza testing program is initiated. At the time of delivery you will be asked to fill out a form listing your name, address, phone number and number of chicks you received.