Wednesday, March 26, 2014

PA Program evolves as some farms pull out of CREP - Pheasant Habitat

By John Zaktansky

Just shy of a decade ago, Peter Aiken — a longtime Pennsylvania Game Commission specialist, family friend and advocate of resuscitating the region’s pheasant population — had just finishing running his bird dogs at our family’s small farm in rural McEwensville.

“Have you heard about the Wild Pheasant Recovery Program they’re starting around here?” he asked us while packing up his gear.

Aiken shared the basic details — that some local farmers who were enrolled the state’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and would be planting a variety of habitat-boosting grasses and other cover crops would be working with the local Pheasants Forever chapter in the WPRP. Once the habitats were created, wild pheasants from South Dakota would be trapped and released on local properties with the hopes of jumpstarting a natural pheasant population.

“It all sounds great,” he said at the time. “But my big concern is what happens if the farmers decide to leave the program and go back to crop farming? What will happen to the habitat? What will happen to the pheasants?”

Keyword: “habitat.”

Out of all the theories of why the previously robust pheasant population in our area suddenly disappeared, the loss of critical habitat was always the key factor.

So far, a success - Read the rest of the Daily Item article

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