Pennsylvania Game Commission biologists and Cumberland Valley Pheasants Forever volunteers fit wild-trapped Montana pheasants with radio collars and crate them in preparation for release into the Franklin Wild Pheasant Recovery Area.
More than 60 ring-necked pheasants from southeastern Montana were released just before sunrise Sunday onto the landscape near Mercersburg in Franklin County.
The birds – 62 total, plus four wild-caught birds from another area of Pennsylvania – are the first to be released into the Franklin Wild Pheasant Recovery Area.
The Montana birds were trapped from the wild on a Crow reservation, crated and air-freighted into Baltimore-Washington International Airport on Friday, trucked to a farm on Friday night and fitted with radio-tracking collars on Saturday night.
Four Pennsylvania roosters were added to adjust the hen-to-rooster ratio for the release after being trapped from the wild in the Central Susquehanna Wild Pheasant Recovery Area in Columbia, Lycoming, Montour and Northumberland counties.
Central Susquehanna is another of the four WPRAs established by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pheasants Forever chapters in an attempt to re-establish wild pheasant populations in Pennsylvania.
Launched in 2007, it's the oldest and most successful to date of the WPRAs.
In addition to Franklin and Central Susquehanna, WPRA's have been established in the Hegins and Gratz valleys in Schuylkill and Dauphin counties, and in Somerset County.
The Franklin site is the last of the WPRAs to receive pheasants. The commission was unable to obtain wild-trapped birds from any of the western states for planned releases in 2012 and 2013.