DEC Accepting Applications for Annual Pheasant Release Program

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.

“For more than a century, volunteers have been working with DEC to successfully raise and release pheasant chicks to bolster hunting opportunities in New York State,” Commissioner Seggos said. “The Day-OId Pheasant Chick Program is a great way to learn about animal husbandry and wildlife management.”

The Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program began in the early 1900s. At that time, 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 that 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. The program is funded through the State Conservation Fund from license fees paid by hunters, trappers, and anglers.

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. Individuals interested in these programs should contact the nearest DEC regional office for applications and additional information.

In 2020, DEC distributed more than 31,500 day-old pheasant chicks to qualified applicants. Applications must be filed with a DEC regional wildlife manager by March 25 (contact information below). A “Pheasant Rearing Guide” and applications are available on the DEC website. For questions about the program or eligibility, email wildlife@dec.ny.gov or call 607-273-2768.

Region 1 – Nassau and Suffolk counties:
SUNY at Stony Brook
50 Circle Road
Stony Brook, NY 11790
(631) 444-0310

Region 3 – Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties:
21 South Putt Corners Rd.
New Paltz, NY 12561
(845) 256-3098

Region 4 – Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Schoharie counties:
65561 State Hwy 10, Suite 1
Stamford, NY 12167
(607) 652-7367

Region 5 – Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties:
1115 Route 86, PO Box 296
Ray Brook, NY 12977
(518) 897-1291

Region 6 – Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, and St. Lawrence counties:
317 Washington Street
Watertown, NY 13601
315-785-2263

Region 7 – Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego, Tioga, and Tompkins counties:
1285 Fisher Ave.
Cortland, NY 13045
(607) 753-3095 x 247

Region 8 – Chemung, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, and Yates counties:
6274 East Avon-Lima Rd.
Avon, NY 14414
(585) 226-5380

Region 9 – Allegany, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Erie, Niagara, and Wyoming counties:
182 East Union, Suite 3
Allegany, NY 14706-1328
(716) 372-0645