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Discussion Starter #1
So, I was born after the hay day of the 60's and 70's when wild pheasants were common in PA. So I never got to see what Pennsylvania "wild pheasant habitat" looked like...

Here are some photos of where I hunt pheasants. For those of you who know what "wild pheasant habitat" in Pennsylvania looks like, does this area look good to you?

Basically, the open field areas that are connected make up about 200 acres. That is surrounded by timbered hill sides. I guess 200 acres isn't enough to support a naturally reproducing pheasant population. But, if the pheasants cut through anywhere from 100 to 300 yard strips of timber, they can connect up with more areas of fallow fields and even some agricultural lands...



























So, do these photos look like good pheasant habitat? Will pheasants cross 100 to 300 yard strips of timber to utilize more areas of more pheasant like habitat?
 

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That is beautiful habitat, Unfortunately habitat is only one requirement for pheasants to survive.
This is my opinion only---- Its the predators that keep the numbers to low to sustain a population. The hawks,and owls kill every day. And stocked birds are way to easy to pass up.Foxes take their fair share ,but i think they end up cleaning up after the Hawks and owls more often.
I do not advocate extermination or control of any animals but I think the rebound of the birds of prey that occurred after the ban of DDT has tipped the scale in their favor to the point of no return for a natural population of pheasants. Ask a farmer how these birds effect his domestic birds. Its sad , I remember seeing hens and poults all over when I was a kid. I didn't know it would end with the ban on DDT. But I didn't know we were killing off all the birds of prey either. Medaling man!
 

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CJBS2003,
It is very hard to tell by looking at photo's just how good the habitat is.At first it looks pretty good,certainly a good place to stock and hunt them in the fall.When you look a little closer though you see a lot of goldenrod,fescue,and other weeds that will flatten right out after the first snow fall.Take a picture of these same fields in Feb.and I think you will see what I mean.If you can take a ride to one of the WPRA and see for yourself what good pheasant habitat looks like you should do so.Even in Jan.after some heavy snows the cover looked great when we did the flushing survey!What looks good to you now in Oct-Nov may not look so good later in the winter!In ideal pheasant habitat in the middle of April after a long hard winter,if you took a football and tossed it ten yards in the cover in front of you you shouldn't be able to see it.
If those 200 ACRES were in ideal nesting cover I don't think the woodland barrier would hinder you that much!I have seen WILD ringnecks survive in some crazy looking habitats in NJ.Hope this helps a little.Good Posts!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks... I am learning here. Probably just a pipe dream to get a few pheasants to take hold, but what is life without dreams?
 

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Don't give up your dreams,some real good things are happening in Pa..There are right now WILD pheasants in Pa. with work being done to spread them out!There are some great people in the Game Comission that understand and are working with us,but they need our support!

Don't give up...I have seen WILD pheasant pop up in strange places!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, if anyone would know where wild pheasants are, its you... I just take some enjoyment knowing a have several healthy coveys of wild quail to hunt near my dad's house in Virginia. They are pretty fun when you get into them!
 

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This may sound like a dumb question, but why doesn't the PGC do the Pheasant stockings in early spring? I would think that it would benefit the birds by allowing them to get accustomed to their new home, and they would also have about 6 months to learn to behave like a wild bird, perhaps even reproducing on their own. Just a thought.
 

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steelerfan58 said:
This may sound like a dumb question, but why doesn't the PGC do the Pheasant stockings in early spring? I would think that it would benefit the birds by allowing them to get accustomed to their new home, and they would also have about 6 months to learn to behave like a wild bird, perhaps even reproducing on their own. Just a thought.
Many options have been tried to improve the survivability of game farm pheasants. Releasing them early just results in them dying early. To get the most out of game farm birds, you need to release them just before you want to hunt them. Habitat for pheasants is not difficult. They need two main things in their range. Undisturbed nesting habitat (grass fields) and woody cover for winter. Woody Cover - Thick underbrush in hedgerows or woodlots that protect them from predators when everything else is under snow. In the midwest, they need additional woody cover. In the east, they need undisturbed grassland for nesting. You solve the predator problem with enough acres of these two requirements.

Food is not typically a limiting factor and less so in an agricultural area. Pheasants have always thrived in an agricultural area with enough grass to nest and enough woody cover to escape predators in the winter months. We look to CREP to help solve the grassland problem.

Limiting predators can increase numbers in a small area but it is difficult to do on a landscape basis. Game farm birds cannot survive against predators. Only a wild pheasant has the behavioral needs, genetics and physical conditioning to escape predators in sufficient numbers to maintain a wild population.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I gotta say, I was blown away today... This was the first time I had been back to the place where the above photos were taken since the heavy snowfall we got the weekend before Christmas. The place looked totally different! Areas that looked like great pheasant cover were heavily matted and it really seemed like the pheasants I had stocked were gonna be struggling to find places to hide. Now there are some pines and thick woody growth for the birds to hide in, but areas where I was shooting them in November were now matted down and had 0 cover. I suspect the hawks are hammering the few that are left. I am hoping to back up there next week and putting a solid day of stomping with the dog to see if any birds are left...
 

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Habitat quality can really change in a short period of time. We picked out spots to release the wild pheasants in November. When we got birds in February that year, we had to pick some new locations because the ones that looked so good in NNovember were not suitable in February. Switch grass is some of the best grassy winter cover there is. It holds up well to snow and even in heavy snow it will create little tunnels for the birds to hide in. Small woody and brushy patches also work even in heavy snows. The only real danger is the 2 to 3 ft snows that come early and stay on the ground for a long period of time. They will reduce pheasant populations and there isn't much you can do about it.
 

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About the spring stalkings from my experience when we did that it worked well in Somerset County. The real main reason for that was the money issue to the halt of spring stocking. When we did them the return was good just walking fields where we did that or mowing we had a lot of nesting and sightings. But like I said the biggest problem for that was the lack of money.
 

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Go to our chapter web page http://www.centralsusquehannapf.org and look under "Articles" There are two of them there. The study by Tony Leif is the one most quoted. It is the second one about wild and game farm hen survival. The end result is the number of young surviving at eight weeks of age. 100 game farm hens produced 16 young and 100 wild hens produced 169. A real eye opener.
 

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Lynn,
That is a great article,I have read it many times,it certainly answers many questions.
Would it be practicle to raise wild captured pheasants?I know this could only be done on a small scale,due to the space required,but it might add to the trap-n-transfer birds.Just a thought!
 

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Dan,

We have discussed that idea before. It has upside and downside. The upside is you can protect all young pheasant poults and won't lose many to predation. In the wild you will normally lose half the brood to predation. The downside to this is, does losing half the brood to predators teach the survivors to avoid those predators? Nobody knows the answer to this question. The mother hen teaches the young to avoid predators while they are under attack from those predators. Can this be simulated in a controlled environment to achieve the same results. Lot's of unanswered questions and to my knowledge, it has not been studied. I wanted to let the PGC game farm take a few wild roosters to add to the gene pool. It was shot down because it wasn't part of the original project plan.

A local wildlife biologist with the PGC, now retired, fought for years to get this option of releasing wild birds in an enclosed pen studied. He couldn't get it approved. In the end, would you end up with a game farm pheasant instead of a wild one??????????
 

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Lynn,
I did a little research,it seems Wisconsin has been doing something like this!Offspring of wild pheasants trapped in Iowa,and pheasants raised from wild eggs collected in China's Jilin Province have been released.They have been doing this for some time now.The wild Iowa birds are propagated in special pens at the Poynette Game Farm designed to minimize contact with humans.
I will try and find out how successful this has been.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I saw something similar in my readings. Wisconsin only uses those birds to stock areas that have promising habitat. They still stock the typical pen pheasant in others areas. Wisconsin claims they are having some success with the program.
 

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Some interesting information,

F-1 EXPERIMENTAL RELEASE
From 1986-2005,WDNR initiated an experimental wild pheasant release program funded by PHEASANT STAMP MONEY.The breeding of wild-trapped pheasants from Iowa and a flock of pheasants imported as eggs from the Jilin Province of China produced first generation [F1] progency that were reared for release onto study areas.Results were mixed on the almost 30 study areas where birds were released.It appears that the FI RELEASES WERE EFFECTIVE IN ESTABLISHING SELF-SUSTAINING POPULATIONS of pheasants if habitat requirements were met.
The study also showed that in areas that weren't stocked,but habitat was improved,the pheasant population increased.

I think this once again shows us how important habitat is.But what about areas that now have good habitat but no way for wild birds to spread to them?Would a program like this benifit Pa.?Or is it simply easier to trap-n-transfer wild birds into those areas?Something to think about.
 

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Is there more information on the how the birds were raised? Were the eggs incubated by the hens in an enclosed flight pen? You have to have a system that gets you genetics and learned behavior for wild birds.
 

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Lynn,
I was thinking the same things!At what age were the chicks released,Mom must of had her chance to imprint on them.It is not clear how they could do this with the eggs from China.I will have to do some more homework!I want a raise in 2010!LOL.
Dan


I have a call in to the WDNR!
 
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