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For Release: Friday, September 12, 2003
Contact: Matthew Burns (518) 402-8000

DEC Announces Release of Pheasants for 2003 Hunting Season

Agency's Pheasant Raising Programs Bolster Hunting Opportunities

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 the fall pheasant hunting season.

The pheasant hunting season begins on October 1, 2003, in northern and eastern portions of New York, October 20, 2003, in central and western portions, and November 1, 2003, on Long Island.

"DEC's pheasant raising programs greatly enhance hunting opportunities across the State and the Department expects 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 going afield to ensure a safe and productive season."

The pheasants were raised at DEC's Reynolds Game Farm in Ithaca, Tompkins County. 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 is available on DEC's website at

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 disperse widely, presenting a greater challenge for experienced hunters. Those interested in raising and releasing pheasants to expand hunting opportunities next year 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 women. The chicks are distributed to applicants in May and June, and hosts incur all costs of rearing the birds, including feed, water, utilities and facility construction. This year, more than 67,000 pheasant chicks were distributed statewide.

The Young Pheasant Release Program was developed in 1992 with assistance from organized hunters. Pheasants five to eight 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 14,400 young pheasants were released at 360 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 31 activities for wild pheasant management and artificially propagated pheasants. Activities contained in the plan carry through 2009.

Boundaries for pheasant hunting zones conform to Wildlife Management Units (WMAs) used for management of other upland wildlife. Hunters are advised to review the 2003-2004 New York State Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide for complete regulations and other important information before going afield. WMU boundary descriptions can also be found on the Department's website at:





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