How many stocked pheasants like this one wind up in the hands of hunters? We’ll soon know.
March 31 is the date to remember.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission put leg bands on roughly 5,500 of the 215,266 pheasants it stocked this past fall. Some of those were worth rewards of $100.
The bands were part of a study. The commission is trying to determine how many of its stocked birds actually get taken by hunters.
The banded birds – 3,567 roosters and 1,999 hens — went out in 62 counties across 22 wildlife management units. Every county in the southwest and northwest region got some.
Information on just what happened to those birds isn’t available yet because hunters have until March 31 to report bands, said Wayne Laroche, director of the bureau of wildlife management. Data is still coming in, he said.
After that deadline passes, commission biologists will look at the bands they got and come up with the percentage of stocked birds brought to bag, he said.
Meanwhile, Dennis Duzsa made a familiar plea at the commission’s most recent meeting.
He’s a former employee of the agency who retired as director of its northcentral region office. A few months ago, he suggested commissioners ask lawmakers to create a pheasant stamp when raising hunting license fees.
The stamp would be required of anyone hunting the farm-reared birds.
Dusza attended the commission’s January meeting to restate that request.
He noted that it costs the commission somewhere on the order of $5 million to raise and stock 200,000 birds. That’s almost 37 percent of the agency’s entire wildlife management budget.
Yet fewer than 75,000 of the state’s roughly 750,000 license buyers hunt pheasants, he added.
“That, my friends and fellow hunters, is out of whack,” Dusza said.
Commissioners later said they’re leery of asking for a pheasant stamp. It’s true stocked pheasants are expensive to raise, but the program is hugely popular, said commissioner Brian Hoover of Delaware County.
Commissioner Dave Putnam pheasant hunting is the one kind he’s aware of that’s seeing increased participation. Requiring hunters to get a stamp would stall that, he believes.
“Right now, all hunters pay for it, and all hunters have the opportunity to benefit from it,” Putnam said.