Pheasants released after being raised by Orleans 4-H’ers

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 19 July 2016 at 8:23 pm
Pheasant chicks

Photos by Kristina Gabalski These 15 chicks were gathered up from their temporary quarters on the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds on Monday and transported to state Department of Environmental Conservation property in the swamps of northern Genesee County. Here they await their journey in a carrier.

KNOWLESVILLE – Orleans County 4-H’ers successfully raise and release pheasants as part of a program through the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Fifteen young pheasants were released into the wild Monday afternoon by members of the Outback Orleans 4-H Club. The club participated for the first time this year in the DEC’s Cooperative Day-old Pheasant Chick Program.

Club leader Adam Hazel says the club received the chicks the first week of June and the young birds were cared for by 4-Hers and 4-H staff on the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

“At first they had to be incubated with a heat lamp,” Hazel says.  As the birds grew, “we had to build cages and stalls.”

The birds began flying by June 15 and most recently were kept in a large stall in the Knight’s Building on the fairgrounds. Hazel and club members gathered the 15, eight-week old chicks Monday evening and transported them to the DEC’s Wildlife Management Area on Albion Road in Oakfield, where they were released into the wild.

Hazel says the program helps to build the pheasant population. The young birds will eat insects now that they are in the wild. They were fed a high-protein chicken feed while being cared for by Outback Orleans.

According to the DEC, about 60,000 day-old chicks are hatched and distributed to cooperators through the chick program each year, including 30 Cooperative Extension 4-H programs. The birds must be released on lands open to public hunting.

Adam Hazel releasing pheasants

Orleans County 4-H Outback Orleans club leader Adam Hazel removes the pheasant carrier from his vehicle just prior to release while club members look on.

4-H members releasing pheasants

Members of the Outback Orleans 4-H club released the young pheasants in a meadow area near woods on DEC property.

Shy pheasants leaving cages

The pheasants were slow to leave the security of their carrier. Most walked into the tall grass while a few of the birds took flight upon leaving the carrier.

DEC Wildlife Management Area off Albion Road

The area where the pheasant chicks were released is off Albion Road in Oakfield is part of a DEC Wildlife Management Area.