New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that applications are now available for DEC’s cooperative Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program, which allows people to participate in raising and releasing pheasants to enhance the State’s fall hunting opportunities. The program is provided through DEC’s partnership with hunters, 4-H youth, and interested landowners.
“Pheasant hunting has a long history in New York and remains popular among hunters,” Commissioner Seggos said. “The Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program is a great way to experience the outdoors and raise pheasants while providing hunters with the opportunity to learn about animal husbandry.”
The Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program began in the early 1900s when the State Conservation Department (precursor to DEC) distributed pheasant eggs and chicks to farmers and rural youth, a tradition that continues to this day. Day-old chicks are available at no cost to participants who can provide a brooding facility, covered outdoor rearing pen, and an adequate release site. Approved applicants will receive the day-old chicks in April, May, or June. No chicks obtained through the Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program can be released on private shooting preserves and all release sites must be approved in advance by DEC and be open for public pheasant hunting opportunities.
Applicants are required to provide daily care to the rapidly growing chicks, monitor the birds’ health, and ensure the chicks have adequate feed and water. The pheasants may be released beginning when they are eight weeks old and must be released no later than Dec. 1. The program is funded through the State Conservation Fund from license fees paid by hunters, trappers, and anglers.
In 2021, DEC distributed more than 34,500 day-old pheasant chicks to qualified applicants. This year marks a new chapter for the program as DEC transitions to an online application process. The application can be found on the Day-old Pheasant Chicks webpage, along with a “Pheasant Rearing Guide (PDF).” People without internet access or who encounter technical difficulties with the online application are advised to contact their regional wildlife office to apply. Applications must be submitted by March 25. For questions about the program or eligibility, email email@example.com or call 607-273-2768.