LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Applications are now open for free pheasant chicks to anyone who can appropriately raise them and release them into the wild.
According to a press release from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the program is a partnership between hunters, 4-H youth, and rural landowners designed to provide pheasant hunting opportunities across the state.
“Pheasant hunting has a history of introducing many young people to the sport of hunting and this program helps continue that tradition,” said DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The Day-old Pheasant Chick Program is a fantastic learning experience. It’s also a hands-on way for youth and other cooperators to partner with DEC to raise and release pheasants to increase hunting opportunities.”
Interested landowners in Livingston County can call (585) 226-5380 or visit the DEC Region 8 office at 6274 East Avon-Lima Road (Rtes. 5 and 20) in Avon. Applications are due by March 25, 2016.
All release sites must be approved in advance by DEC and must be open for public pheasant hunting opportunities. No chicks obtained through the Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program can be released on private shooting preserves. The program is funded through the State Conservation Fund from license fees paid by hunters, trappers, and anglers.
Daily care is necessary to monitor the health of the birds and to ensure there is adequate feed and water for the rapidly growing chicks. The pheasants may be released beginning when they are eight weeks old and no later than Dec. 1. In 2015, DEC distributed more than 31,500 day-old pheasant chicks to qualified applicants.
The Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program began in the early 1900s, with pheasant eggs and chicks distributed to farmers and rural youth. Today, day-old chicks are available at no cost to participants who are able to provide a brooding facility, a covered outdoor rearing pen, and an adequate release site. Approved applicants will receive the day-old chicks in April, May, or June.