The Pheasant Release Project

The Pheasant Release Project

From Deer Creek Outdoors

Ring-Necked Pheasants were once plentiful in the Eastern Midwest. I've increased their wild population by releasing breeding stock in the past. I need your help to go bigger.

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Ring-Necked Pheasants were once plentiful in the Eastern Mid-west. Changing farming practices diminished the amount of nesting and winter cover available to them in the 1960's and '70's. Then came the blizzards of the late '70's. The best estimates are that more than 90% of their population died off.

Even though now there are millions of acres of conservation reserve program (CRP) and the newer conservation reserve enhancement program (CREP) providing the needed cover for these beautiful game birds, their populations have never recovered. The main reason for this is that the remaining few pheasants are too few, and too far in between. Add to this the appearance of the coyote in the same regions, and it is no wonder that the sighting of a majestic pheasant is a rare event these days.

I need your help to try to reverse the decline in their numbers. I have around 45 years experience successfully raising all types of fowl, including pheasants, quail, turkeys,and mallard ducks. I want to re-stock breeding populations of pheasants into their former range, in areas where they can survive and thrive, but none exist at the present time.

Step one of the plan- Pay for the required permits to raise game birds in my state. Acquire brooding equipment to raise chicks until they feather out in buildings that I and my family already own. Build large outdoor flight pens for the birds to strengthen their wings, learn how to forage for seeds and insects, and acclimate to the weather in.

Step two -- Buy day old pheasant chicks. Since pheasants are polygamous, the plan is to get 3-4 female chicks to every male chick. Since the females are the ones that lay the eggs, incubate them, raise the next wild generation, and are MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE, this seems to be the smart way to go about restoring viable breeding populations.

Step 3-- Raise the young birds with minimal human interaction. In my experience, I've found that no matter how many generations of a wild bird have been raised by man, they are still wild and very flighty when they are hatched. Only with months of handling and close care by humans do they become less wary and more accepting of humans and other possible predators.

Step 4-- Release the young, but fully feathered and flight conditioned birds into the wild. Release only onto properties that are suitable for a reasonable chance of survival. A) There must be adequate nesting and winter cover (CRP ground, CREP acreage, cattail marshes, pasture/hay fields, etc.) adjacent to crop fields that will provide an additional winter The landowner or farmer must also agree to disallow pheasant hunting for a minimum of 4 years, and longer if the population is not growing as expected.

There you have it - a common sense plan to enhance the wildlife population. I've read a wildlife department publication that stated that releasing pheasants won't increase the population. How did pheasants get populated in the first place? Answer- They were brought to North America from China and RELEASED! Why did Fish and Game Departments in the mid-west RELEASE pheasants in the 20th century? Answer - Because it worked! It spread them all over the country, and they thrived by the millions, until two feet of snow covered their food and starvation decimated their population during two back-to-back unusually cold and snowy winters.

Most of you who are less than 50 years old, and who grew up East of the Mississippi River have never seen a flock of 100 or more pheasants take flight as you drove down a country road. Most have never flushed dozens of pheasants on a Thanksgiving morning hunt with your cousins, uncles, and grandfathers. Many of you youngest nature lovers, naturalists, bird watchers, and hunters have never even seen a Ring-Necked Pheasant! Trust me- they are a truly beautiful creature that is worth a few bucks to help bring back from the edge.

If this venture gets off the ground, I want to do the same with Bob-white Quail, which have suffered the same fate for the same reasons as the Pheasant. Their numbers are at least stable in some areas, but they are not nearly as common as they were when I was a younger man. I want this movement to grow. To encompass a wider area and involve multiple species.

Now is the time - The cover is there again. The cropland is there. If you consider yourself to be an outdoors/nature enthusiast of any kind please give any amount that you can. Please give back to enhance the beauty of nature that we all enjoy. $5 is not too little, and $50,000 is not too much to know that the next time you see a pheasant, you might have helped to make his life possible. Thanks.

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