HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Game Commission has slated 101,800 ring-necked pheasants for release on public lands throughout the Commonwealth for the upcoming small game hunting seasons. "Based on the agency's budget cuts first implemented in the 2004-05 fiscal year and carried forward since, we reduced our pheasant propagation program by 50 percent," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. "Reducing the pheasant propagation program has saved the agency nearly $1.1 million over the three fiscal years. Without a hunting license fee increase, we expect to continue producing at the 100,000-bird level. "Despite the overall reductions, this year our game farm staff had an excellent production season. They have worked hard with limited resources to achieve the goal to have 100,000 birds available for stocking this fall, as well as providing an additional 1,800 birds to offer to sportsmen's clubs who signed up to sponsor mentored youth pheasant hunts on Oct. 7." Carl F. Riegner, chief of the agency's Propagation Division, reminds us that early this spring Roe reinstated an allocation of birds to be offered to sportsmen clubs and other organizations to conduct mentored youth hunts. These birds would normally come from the county allotment in which the hunt is conducted. However, since we had such a great production season the agency has been able to provide the 1,800 birds as extra without reducing the county allotment for the regular season releases. The region staff will begin the stocking season Oct. 5, when the agency will release 15,000 birds (7,420 males and 7,580 females) for the youth pheasant hunt scheduled for Oct. 7-13. A listing of stocking locations for the youth hunt can be found on pages 26-28 of the "2006-07 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations," which is provided to each license buyer. Opening day of the general pheasant hunting season is Oct. 21, and closes on Nov. 25. Preseason releases will consist of 50 percent of the fall allocation, and will be stocked in each region beginning Oct. 18 followed by the first in-season stocking consisting of 25 percent. The second in-season stocking will be held the week of Nov. 6 consisting of another 25 percent. Only male pheasants are legal game in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2A, 2B, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D. Male and female pheasants are legal game in all other WMUs. During the regular fall season, the agency focuses pheasant stocking on State Game Lands and select state parks and federal lands. However, in some areas where habitat conditions on public lands are marginal, birds may be stocked on properties signed in the Game Commission public access program. Game Commission regional offices have an updated publication titled "A Guide To Pheasant Releases And More," which identifies State Game Lands, and those state parks and federal lands with suitable habitat that receive pheasant stockings. The publication, posted on the Game Commission's website (http://www.pgc.state.pa.us), can be viewed by selecting on "Hunting" in the left-hand column, clicking on the photograph of the pheasant and then choosing "Pheasant Management Program." A regional breakdown for the regular season stocking is as follows: Northwest Region, 5,260 males and 10,330 females; Southwest Region, 17,430 males and 5,550 females; Northcentral Region, 2,710 males and 5,160 females; Southcentral Region, 6,280 males and 3,880 females; Northeast Region, 5,660 males and 3,010 females; and Southeast Region, 14,960 males. Regional allocations are based on the amount of suitable pheasant habitat open to public hunting and pheasant hunting pressure. To offer hunters better information about the stocking schedule, the Game Commission has posted on its website charts for each of its six regions outlining the number of birds to be stocked in each county, the public properties slated to be stocked and a two- to three-day window in which stockings will take place within the counties. To view the charts, go to the Game Commission's website (http://www.pgc.state.pa.us), select "Hunting" in the left-hand column, clicking on the photograph of the pheasant and then choose "Pheasant Allocation" and click on the map for the county or region of interest. "As financial considerations have forced us to reduce the number of pheasants we are stocking, it was decided that we should provide hunters with additional information to assist them in deciding when and where to hunt those pheasants stocked," Roe said. He reminded hunters that, two years ago, the agency enacted a regulation aimed at improving safety for agency employees and vehicles involved in pheasant stocking. "Each year, when Game Commission personnel are releasing pheasants from the stocking trucks, employees and trucks are shot at by unsuspecting hunters in the field. To prevent this, the agency approved a regulation that prohibits hunters from discharging a firearm within 150 yards of a Game Commission vehicle releasing pheasants. "As we provide better information about when and where stockings will be conducted, we remind hunters that they have an obligation to ensure that no stocking trucks or personnel are in the vicinity." This year, the late season is scheduled for Dec. 11-23 and Dec. 26-Feb. 3, for Wildlife Management Units 1A, 1B, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B and 4D. Male and female pheasants are legal game in these WMUs. All other WMUs are closed during these dates. Although small game season comes back in following the close of deer, we are holding an allocation of 4,770 hen pheasants to be stocked Dec. 21. "We are holding these birds to be released as close as possible to the holiday season so youth can take advantage of going afield during their school break and some business close down for the holidays as well," Riegner said. For details on the pheasant seasons, please see pages 25-28 of the "2006- 2007 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations." For more information about the 23 clubs who sponsored mentored youth pheasant hunts, go to the Game Commission's website (http://www.pgc.state.pa.us), select on "Hunting" in the left-hand column, then click on the photograph of the pheasant and then choose "Youth Pheasant Hunt Listing." Additional information on the youth pheasant season, which runs Oct. 7-13, is available in News Release #107-06, issued on Sept. 7. To augment the Game Commission's pheasant stocking program, Roe noted that each January sportsmen's clubs are invited to enroll in the agency's "Pheasant Chick Program." As part of the program, clubs are required to erect appropriate facilities, purchase feed and cover other expenses, and then they can receive pheasant chicks to raise and release for hunting and dog training purposes on lands open to public hunting in their local community. Riegner adds, "This is a wonderful opportunity for sportsmen to get kids involved in raising pheasants and to learn more about wildlife and habitat requirements. Kids can be involved in raising the birds, assist in developing habitat in their community, and help release the pheasants into the wild." Our game farm superintendents can assist sportsmen's clubs by providing technical advice and training to get a facility started. "We are striving to live within our current revenues," Roe said. "Now, more than ever, we need sportsmen's clubs to help us in many aspects, including raising pheasants." Created in 1895 as an independent state agency, the Game Commission is responsible for conserving and managing all wild birds and mammals in the Commonwealth, establishing hunting seasons and bag limits, enforcing hunting and trapping laws, and managing habitat on the 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands it has purchased over the years with hunting and furtaking license dollars to safeguard wildlife habitat. The agency also conducts numerous wildlife conservation programs for schools, civic organizations and sportsmen's clubs. The Game Commission does not receive any general state taxpayer dollars for its annual operating budget. The agency is funded by license sales revenues; the state's share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program, which is an excise tax collected through the sale of sporting arms and ammunition; and monies from the sale of oil, gas, coal, timber and minerals derived from State Game Lands.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission