Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pennsylvania Franklin County's reintroduced pheasants doing well so far

Game Commission hopes to introduce hundreds of birds to recovery area

Franklin County's first colony of ring-necked pheasants is in a family way.

On a short walk from the barn into the tall grasses, Brandon Black flushes four fledglings and two hens. A rooster disappears around the corner of a mulberry grove.

"Things are going real well," said Black, a wildlife biologist aide with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

In fewer than five months, the Franklin County Wild Pheasant Recovery Area has come to life with eggs, broods and roaming roosters.

It's still too early to let sportsmen and their dogs into the field, or even to determine the survival rate, but there are indications that the birds like their new home.

Black is tracking 20 birds in the summer heat and humidity. More than four months ago in near-zero wind chills, the Game Commission released about 70 pheasants, many with radio collars.
"Our plan was to get 300 birds," he said. "Unfortunately that didn't happen."

The Game Commission relocated most of the birds from Montana. Trappers from the commission were not familiar with the new territory and weather warmed during the operation, Black said. Cold weather is needed to draw pheasants to the bait.

The hope is to add 300 pheasants to the Franklin County Wild Pheasant Recovery Area next year. The area is the most recent of four WPRAs in Pennsylvania. Startup was hampered when states were reluctant to part with their own declining stocks of wild pheasants. A Crow tribe in Montana has agreed to allow the Game Commission trap its birds.

Flying the pheasants from Montana worked well and is likely to be repeated next year, according to Black. It's cheaper and the birds are in captivity for a shorter period.

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