01/24/2019 - New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that the application period for the cooperative Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program is now open. The Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program began in the early 1900s and was officially established in 1919, making 2019 the program's 100th anniversary. Applications to the program are due by March 25.
"Pheasant hunting is a longstanding tradition in New York State," Commissioner Seggos said. "DEC's Day-Old Chick Program allows people to participate in raising and releasing pheasants to enhance our state's fall hunting opportunities. In 2018, DEC distributed more than 30,000 day-old pheasant chicks to qualified applicants. Interested and eligible New Yorkers are encouraged to apply and help make the 100th anniversary another successful year for this program."
The program is a partnership among DEC, hunters, 4-H youth groups, and landowners interested in rearing and releasing pheasants. In its early days, pheasant eggs and chicks were distributed solely to farmers and rural youth. Today, day-old chicks are available at no cost to any New Yorker that can provide a brooding facility, a covered outdoor rearing pen, and an adequate release site. Release sites must be open to public pheasant hunting opportunities and chicks cannot be released on private shooting preserves.
Approved applicants will receive the day-old chicks in April, May, or June, depending on egg-laying and hatching dates. Participants must provide daily care for the rapidly growing chicks, ensure the chicks have adequate feed and water, and monitor their health. The pheasants may be released beginning when they are eight weeks old and must be released no later than Dec. 1.
Individuals interested in these programs should contact the nearest DEC regional office (please refer to offices listed below) for applications and additional information. A "Pheasant Rearing Guide" and applications are also available on DEC's website.
Pheasant hunting is the "entry point" for many new hunters. The chance to see and take a bird is higher than for other game, which helps to capture a novice hunter's interest and increase their odds of becoming lifelong hunters.
Roughly one-third of New York's 70,000 small game hunters pursue pheasants. Pheasant hunters spend more than 100,000 days afield annually, contributing millions to the state economy through hunting license sales and hunting-related expenditures. Excise taxes on sporting arms and ammunition bought by small and big game hunters alike also contribute to the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program. In 2018, New York's apportionment of Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration funds was $20.8 million.
Although not native, ring-necked pheasants have occupied the New York landscape for more than 100 years. The state propagation program has been raising and releasing pheasants since 1909. Unlike some introduced species, pheasants have not been detrimental to native plants and wildlife. Pheasants are highly desired by many landowners, as well as pheasant hunters, as evident by their participation in cooperative pheasant programs, farmer surveys, and hunting seasons.
DEC's Reynolds Game Farm, located near Ithaca, raises and releases 30,000 adult pheasants annually to provide hunting opportunities during both a two-day, youth-only hunting season and during the regular hunting season. Reynolds Game Farm also provides about 2,000 pheasants each year to "sponsored hunts" for youth, women, novices, veterans, and people with disabilities as a mechanism for recruiting new hunters. The opportunities afforded by the day-old chick program, the youth-only season, and sponsored hunts also help retain and reactivate experienced hunters, who often coordinate these events and act as mentors.
Reynolds Game Farm has received approximately $1.9 million in NY Works funding to update the farm's infrastructure and improve efficiency, function, and biosecurity. To date, approximately $1 million has been spent or is obligated to on-going projects. Projects for the remaining $900,000 are in the planning phase.
Chairman of the New York State Conservation Fund Advisory Board, Jason Kemper said, "New York's Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program has a rich history and tradition of introducing young people to wildlife management practices and to the sport of hunting. This year's 100th anniversary celebrates the pheasant hunting opportunities, observation, and educational experiences that the Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program provides for participants."
The Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program is funded through the State Conservation Fund, which is supported by license fees paid by hunters, trappers, and anglers. Applications must be filed with a DEC regional wildlife manager by March 25. Local offices are:
R3 - Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester Counties:
21 South Putt Corners Rd.
New Paltz, NY 12561
R4 - Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Schoharie Counties:
65561 State Hwy 10, Suite 1
Stamford, NY 1216