The opening of the application period for the cooperative Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program to enhance opportunities for pheasant hunting in New York has begun, the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced this week.

The program provides pheasant hunting opportunities through a partnership among DEC, sportsmen and sportswomen, 4-H youth groups, and landowners interested in rearing and releasing pheasants. The program is funded through the State Conservation Fund, which is supported by license fees paid by hunters, trappers, and anglers.

The Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program began in the early 1900s, when pheasant eggs and chicks were distributed to farmers and rural youth. Today, day-old chicks are available at no cost to participants who are able to provide a brooding facility, a covered outdoor rearing pen, and an adequate release site.

Daily care is necessary to monitor the health of the birds and to ensure there is adequate feed and water for the rapidly growing chicks. The pheasants may be released when they are eight weeks old and no later than Dec. 1. Approved applicants will receive the day-old chicks in April, May, or June. All release sites must be approved in advance by DEC and must be open for public pheasant hunting opportunities.

In 2016, DEC distributed more than 34,000 day-old pheasant chicks to qualified applicants. Individuals interested in this program should contact the nearest DEC regional wildlife office for applications and additional information (see information below). Applications must be filed with a DEC regional wildlife manager by March 25.

A “Pheasant Rearing Guide” and applications are also available on DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7271.html.

Region 9, including Allegany and Wyoming counties: write 182 East Union, Suite 3 Allegany, NY 14706-1328 or call (716) 372-0645. 

Region 8, including Livingston and Steuben counties: write 6274 East Avon-Lima Rd. Avon, NY 14414 or call (585) 226-5380