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Pheasant chick program enhances fall hunting

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) 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 Basil 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.

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