By Paula Vagts
Once flourishing in the rural landscape of Minnesota, the pheasant has seen a drastic decrease in numbers within the last few decades.
But rural Wykoff resident Steve Ramaker is doing his part to bring these beautiful birds back to their prime.
Originally imported from China to the United States in 1881, the ring-necked pheasants were first introduced in Minnesota in 1916. Since that time they have become one of the state’s most popular game birds.
In late spring Steve and his brother, Dean, headed to Harmony to pick up their 400 baby pheasants from Wildlife and Habitat of Fillmore County, a nonprofit group, which donates feed along with the birds.
Several hours later they returned with 1,100 birds! After dividing them between themselves, friends and family, Steve had 430 babies to raise.
But, he was prepared with a building tailored to keeping the young pheasants healthy and safe.
“If you take responsibility for these birds you have to be ready for them when they come,” he commented. “They say that from the time you get these birds until the next year only 5 percent of these birds will make it. But, a lot of the time these birds die because they aren’t being taken care of properly.”
What it takes is a lot of heat, at least for the first two weeks when their environment needs to be kept around 90 degrees.
“When it’s that hot in there those little birds just flourish,” Ramaker said.