PA Game Commission Announces Fall Pheasant Stocking Plans
HARRISBURG, PA –-(AmmoLand.com)- The Pennsylvania Game Commission has slated 106,142 ring-necked pheasants for release on public lands throughout the Commonwealth for the upcoming small game hunting seasons, including 16,800 birds for the junior only season (Oct. 10-17).
“Based on agency’s budget cuts first implemented in the 2004-05 fiscal year and carried forward since, we reduced our pheasant propagation program by 50 percent,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “Reducing the pheasant propagation program has saved the agency more than one million dollars. Without a hunting license fee increase, we expect to continue producing at the 100,000-bird level.
“Despite the overall reductions, this year our game farm staff had an excellent production season. They have worked hard with limited resources to achieve the goal to have 100,000-birds available for stocking this fall.”
The region staff will begin the stocking season Oct. 9, when the agency will release 15,000 birds (8,610 males and 6,390 females) for the junior pheasant hunt scheduled for Oct 10-17. A listing of stocking locations for the youth hunt can be found on pages 23-25 of the 2009-10 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which is provided to each license buyer. Another 1,800 pheasants have been allocated for those clubs sponsoring mentored pheasant hunts for juniors on Oct. 10. (For more information on those clubs participating, please see News Release #087-09.)
Opening day of the general pheasant hunting season is Oct. 24, and closes on Nov. 28. Preseason releases will consist of 50 percent of the fall allocation, and will be stocked in each region beginning Oct. 22, followed by the first in-season stocking consisting of 25 percent beginning Oct. 28. The second in-season stocking will be held the week of Nov. 4, consisting of another 25 percent. Only male pheasants are legal game in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2A, 2B, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B. Male and female pheasants are legal game in all other WMUs.
During the regular fall season, the agency focuses pheasant stocking on State Game Lands and select state parks and federal lands. However, in some areas where habitat conditions on public lands are marginal, birds may be stocked on properties enrolled in the Game Commission public access program. Game Commission regional offices have an updated publication titled A Guide To Pheasant Releases And More, which identifies State Game Lands, and those state parks and federal lands with suitable habitat that receive pheasant stockings. The publication, posted on the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), can be viewed by selecting on “Hunting” in the left-hand column, clicking on the photograph of the pheasant and then choosing “Pheasant Management Program.”
New for the 2009-10 pheasant season is a major change designed to be the first major step toward re-establishing wild pheasant populations in Pennsylvania.
Under the agency’s Ring-necked Pheasant Management Plan, the Game Commission calls for restoring self-sustaining and huntable populations of wild pheasants in suitable habitats called “Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas” (WPRAs), and defined as the Pike Run, Somerset and Central Susquehanna WPRAs. The agency will facilitate the release of wild-trapped pheasants into these areas, with a goal of achieving a density of 10 hen pheasants per square mile.
To give these wild pheasants the best opportunity to establish naturally reproducing populations, the Board has banned the release of any artificially propagated pheasants – including Game Commission raised pheasants – pheasant hunting is closed in these WPRAs. Also, to limit disturbances to nesting hen pheasants, dog training of any manner will be prohibited in these WPRAs from the end of small game season in early February through July 31 each year.
“Working with major partners, such as Pheasants Forever, the University of California and local landowners, we already have a jump-start on creating WPRAs,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “These groups have invested in creating the necessary pheasant habitat in three areas of the state. To make the best use of the agency’s resources, and with the support of these partners, we are going to establish these areas as the first WPRAs in the state.
“While we hope to identify more, the Game Commission will continue to raise and release pheasants on public lands with suitable pheasant habitat each fall. And, should we receive additional revenues, we plan to increase our pheasant production level to 250,000 birds, as noted in the Ring-necked Pheasant Management Plan.”
For the 2009-10 seasons, the WPRAs are defined as the following geographic locations:
(1) Pike Run WPRA: The portion of Washington County, WMU 2A, bounded on the east by the Monongahela River, on the north by I-70, on the west by PA Rt. 917 to Swagler Rd. to Spring Valley Rd. to PA Rt. 2015 to Lone Pine Rd. to the intersection with Tenmile Creek in West Zollarsville, and bounded on the south by Tenmile Creek.
(2) Somerset WPRA: That portion of Somerset County, WMU 2C, bounded on the western side starting at the intersection of Coleman Station Rd. and Stutzmantown Rd. proceeding south on Coleman Station Rd., crossing SR 31, to Brotherton Rd., continuing south to Round Hill Rd., then east onto Wills Church Rd., then to Archery Rd. The boundary then follows Berlin Plank Rd. (US Rt. 219) south into the town of Berlin where it joins the Mason Dixon Hwy. (US Rt. 219) proceeding south to Pine Hill Rd. to Walker School Rd. then east on Maple Valley Rd., to Sawmill Rd. to the Cumberland Hwy. (SR 160). The boundary then follows the Cumberland Hwy. (SR 160) south to Salco Rd. and then proceeds north on Salco Rd. to Huckleberry Hwy. (SR 160) in the town of Berlin. The boundary follows Huckleberry Hwy. (SR 160) north, crossing SR 31, to the intersection of Roxbury Rd., then north to Shanksville Rd. The boundary then proceeds north to Stutzmantown Rd., then west to the beginning at the intersection of Coleman Station Rd.
(3) Central Susquehanna WPRA: Portions of WMU 4E in Northumberland, Montour, Columbia and Lycoming counties from the West Branch of the Susquehanna River south to the intersection with PA Rt. 642 and the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Milton. The southern boundary is defined by PA Rt. 642 east from Milton to Mausdale, then north on PA Rt. 642 to just south of Jerseytown, proceeding east on Eyersgrove Rd. to Eyers Grove at PA Rt.42. Proceeding south on PA Rt. 42 to Mordansville, northeast of Mordansville along Robbins Rd. (Rt. 600) to Mordansville Rd. (Rt. 541), south on Millertown Rd. (Rt. 4011), then continuing east to follow Mount Pleasant Rd. (Rt. 4020) and Mount Pleasant St. (PA Rt. 4034) to Orangeville at the southeast corner of the WPRA. PA Rt. 487 lines the eastern boundary from Orangeville north to Maple Grove/intersection with PA Rt. 254. The northern boundary begins with PA Rt. 254 west of Maple Grove to the intersection with Winters Rd. (Rt. 459) proceeding west to the intersection with Austin Trail (PA Rt. 4039). Continuing west on Owl Rd. (Rt. 599), north and west on Reese Rd. (Rt. 578), and north and west on Trivelpiece Rd. (Rt. 576). Eagle Rd. (PA Rt. 4037) then continues northwest to the intersection with Whitehorse Rd./Whitehorse Pike (Rt. 661) heading west to just south of Sereno, and then south on PA Rt. 42 to Millville. From Millville, proceeding southwest on PA Rt. 254 to Jerseytown. Then northwest on PA Rt. 44, north on Swartz Rd., west on Shultz Rd., north on Ants Hill Rd., west on Wolf Hollow Rd., then north on Katy’s Church Rd. Crossing into Lycoming County and proceeding northwest on G Wagner Rd., west on Ridge Rd., crossing into Montour County, southwest on County Line Rd., south on Muncy Exchange Rd. (PA Rt. 1003), west on Hickory Rd. (PA Rt. 1008), west on Mingle Rd. (Rt. 433), west on Hickory Rd. (PA Rt. 1008) for the second time, and proceeding north on Gearhart Hollow Rd. (Rt. 441). Continuing west on Showers Rd. (PA Rt. 1010), crossing into Northumberland County, proceeding north and west on Pugmore Lane, north on Hockley Hill Rd. (PA Rt. 1011), west on Miller Rd. (Rt. 653), continuing southwest on Balliet Rd. (Rt. 664). Proceeding northwest and west on Schmidt Rd. (Rt. 564). continuing north on Susquehanna Trail (PA Rt. 1007), continuing west on Hughes Rd. (Rt. 655), crossing under I-180, proceeding south on Crawford Rd. (Rt. 507) to PA Rt. 54. Proceeding northwest on PA Rt. 54 to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
A regional breakdown for the regular season stocking is as follows: Northwest Region, 7,600 males and 11,400 females; Southwest Region, 19,260 males and 5,910 females; Northcentral Region, 6,930 males and 5,912 females; Southcentral Region, 8,980 males and 7,080 females; Northeast Region, 8,150 males and 5,370 females; and Southeast Region 14,670 males and 4,880 females. Regional allocations are based on the amount of suitable pheasant habitat open to public hunting and pheasant hunting pressure.
To offer hunters better information about the stocking schedule, the Game Commission has posted on its website charts for each of its six regions outlining the number of birds to be stocked in each county, the public properties slated to be stocked and a two- to three-day window in which stockings will take place within the counties. To view the charts, go to the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), select “Hunting” in the left-hand column, clicking on the photograph of the pheasant and then choose “Pheasant Allocation” and click on the map for the county or region of interest.
“As financial considerations have forced us to reduce the number of pheasants we are stocking, it was decided that we should provide hunters with additional information to assist them in deciding when and where to hunt those pheasants stocked,” Roe said. He reminded hunters that, two years ago, the agency enacted a regulation aimed at improving safety for agency employees and vehicles involved in pheasant stocking.
“Each year, when Game Commission personnel are releasing pheasants from the stocking trucks, employees and trucks are shot at by unsuspecting hunters in the field. To prevent this, the agency approved a regulation that prohibits hunters from discharging a firearm within 150 yards of a Game Commission vehicle releasing pheasants. As we provide better information about when and where stockings will be conducted, we remind hunters that they have an obligation to ensure that no stocking trucks or personnel are in the vicinity.”
This year, the late season is scheduled for Dec. 14-23 and Dec. 26-Feb. 6, for Wildlife Management Units 1A, 1B, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4D, 5C and 5D. Male and female pheasants are legal game in these WMUs. All other WMUs are closed during these dates.
“We are holding these birds to be released as close as possible to the holiday season so youth can take advantage of going afield during their school break and some business close down for the holidays as well,” Roe said.
For details on the pheasant seasons, please see pages 22-25 of the 2009-10 Digest. For more information about the clubs who sponsored junior pheasant hunts, go to the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), select on “Hunting” in the left-hand column, then click on the photograph of the pheasant and then choose “Junior Pheasant Hunt Listings.”
To augment the Game Commission’s pheasant stocking program, Roe noted that each January sportsmen’s clubs are invited to enroll in the agency’s “Pheasant Chick Program.” As part of the program, clubs are required to erect appropriate facilities, purchase feed and cover other expenses, and then they can receive pheasant chicks to raise and release for hunting and dog training purposes on lands open to public hunting in their local community.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for sportsmen to get kids involved in raising pheasants and to learn more about wildlife and habitat requirements,” Roe said. “Kids can be involved in raising the birds, assist in developing habitat in their community, and help release the pheasants into the wild. Our game farm superintendents can assist sportsmen’s clubs by providing technical advice and training to get a facility started.
“We are striving to live within our current revenues. Now, more than ever, we need sportsmen’s clubs to help us in many aspects, including raising pheasants.”
Also, Richard Palmer, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Protection director, reminded hunters that an executive order remains in effect that bans dog training on State Game Lands from the Monday prior to the start of the youth pheasant season until the close of the youth pheasant season, which, for this coming season, translates to Oct. 5-17. The order does not, in any manner, prohibit dog handlers from using dogs as part of a junior-only pheasant hunt activity or for dog training activities on any lands other than State Game Lands. He also noted that this order does not impact dog training activities statewide during the remainder of the year, including general small game seasons.