Friday, October 17, 2008

Pheasant Release Program


Pheasants are prepared for transport to state land where they were released.
Photographed by Renee.
See more photos here.

On Monday, children had a day off from school for Columbus Day, which gave us the opportunity for a field trip to release some pheasants. 

The birds are much bigger with beautiful colors now that months have passed since we put their blinders on. Monday's task required us to form a straight line with outstretched arms, and walk slowly inside a large pen.  We corralled the pheasants into a smaller fenced area. Then we caught them, removed their blinders and placed them into crates for transporting. 

After rounding up 105 birds, we loaded the children into three vehicles and drove to an area of state land near New Woodstock. There, we made numerous stops along a seasonal dirt road where we released 15 birds at a time. 

We all had a great time.  The children enjoyed riding through the fields and on the dirt roads through the woods. 

The Reynolds Game Farm in Ithaca is threatened with closure due to the current state budget problems.  Clubs already offset the cost of raising the chicks to maturity before they are released.  Rather than close down the game farm, my suggestion is to charge the clubs $1 more per chick, which would cover most of it's operating expenses. 

Other pheasant farms have been closed over the years. Reynolds Farm is the only one left. We can’t afford to lose them.

Part of the argument for closing the pheasant farm is that more people hunt turkey. But there still are many who enjoy hunting pheasant.  Many sportsmen and women like to bring their hunting dogs afield.  Hunting pheasant is a sport where dogs play a key role.  Many folks just love to see the pheasants walking along a hedgerow or a dirt road. 

I don’t hunt any of the birds I release. I enjoy watching them walk by as I sit in one of my tree stands bow hunting. 

Locally, the Onondaga Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs manages the raising of pheasant chicks.  They are delivered to the Jamesville Penitentiary where prisoners care for them weekdays and volunteers care for them on weekends.  

Children from the Police Center are among the volunteers who participate. We very much enjoy the program, as do numerous other members of Sportsman’s clubs who bring young people to participate. We give our time, use our own vehicles and pay for our own fuel to transport the birds to State land.  We don’t complain about the cost or the work.

This program is part of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation's effort to manage populations and promote hunting.  Imagine the cost if taxpayers had to pay state employees to deliver these services, rather than use prisoners and volunteers.  

We're appealing to Governor Patterson to keep this program.  The state could charge the clubs $1 per bird, but not get rid of a program that serves an important purpose and saves tax dollars.  We encourage readers to contact their representatives and ask them to preserve this program.

Enjoying the outdoors,

Officer Clarke

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