Harrisburg The Pennsylvania Game Commission has slated 100,170 ring-necked pheasants for release on public lands throughout the Commonwealth for the upcoming small game hunting seasons, including 17,980 birds for the youth only season (Oct. 11-18).
"Based on 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 more than one million dollars. 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."
The region staff will begin the stocking season Oct. 9, when the agency will release 15,090 birds (8,640 males and 6,450 females) for the youth pheasant hunt scheduled for Oct 11-18. A listing of stocking locations for the youth hunt can be found on pages 26-28 of the 2008-08 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which is provided to each license buyer. Another 1,890 pheasants have been allocated for those clubs sponsoring mentored pheasant hunts for youth on Oct. 11.
Opening day of the general pheasant hunting season is Oct. 25, and closes on Nov. 29. Preseason releases will consist of 50 percent of the fall allocation, and will be stocked in each region beginning Oct. 22, followed by the first in-season stocking consisting of 25 percent beginning Oct. 29. The second in-season stocking will be held the week of Nov. 5, consisting of another 25 percent. Only male pheasants are legal game in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2A, 2B, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B. 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 enrolled 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 (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, 7,600 males and 11,400 females; Southwest Region, 19,260 males and 5,440 females; Northcentral Region, 4,950 males and 5,650 females; Southcentral Region, 7,980 males and 6,790 females; Northeast Region, 7,530 males and 5,370 females; and Southeast Region 13,430 males and 4,770 females. 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 (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."