Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pheasants Will Abound This Fall

By Bob Frye
If Pennsylvania pheasant hunters can't find any birds in the field this fall, it won't be because they aren't out there.
The number stocked is expected to top anything in recent memory.
Wayne Laroche, director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's bureau of wildlife management, said the agency is exploring ways to cut costs within the pheasant program. Right now, he said, the agency spends about $4-5 million to raise and release birds.
Savings might come from buying day-old chicks and raising them, rather than keeping game farms operational year-round so as to produce them in-house, he said. With that in mind, the commission launched an experiment this year. Laroche said it bought 15,500 day-old chicks from a commercial breeder and is raising them at the game farm in Armstrong County.
That represents a “test run to see how they survive relative to our own chicks,” he said.
If that effort proves successful, he said earlier this year, the commission might go to buying all of its chicks. That would allow the game farms to close, or at least scale back operations, at slow times. Those workers would be used elsewhere, he said.
In the meantime, commission game farms produced a “bumper crop” of pheasants this spring, Laroche said.
He said those 220,000 or so birds, together with the 15,500 purchased, will lead to more than 235,000 being stocked this fall “if all goes according to plan.”

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