Paterson pulls plug on pheasant program

Groups like the Humane Society of the United States have for years advocated against stocking pheasants - and fish for that matter - into the wild calling such practices things like "canned hunts."

Meanwhile, pheasant hunting ranks one of the most popular small-game hunting activities in New York, according to the DEC. The DEC's Small Game Hunter Survey in 2006-07 indicated that about 60,000 hunters harvested 130,000 pheasants statewide, while spending 262,000 days afield.

Without stocking that opportunity would all but cease to exist, DEC officials say, because a sustainable population of pheasants does not exist in the Adirondacks.

Bernardi contends that sending the 60,000 upland bird hunters to neighboring states - or to paid game farms where licenses are not required - would have a far greater impact on New York's economy than the money saved by closing Reynolds farm.

He also said the farm was completely funded by money from the state's Conservation Fund, which comes from license sales and federal monies associated with excise taxes on sporting goods.

"Where will that money end up, in the general fund?" he asked. "This doesn't bode well for the future of sportsmen in New York."

The unknowns

The Reynolds facility had been producing about 27,000 adult pheasants for stocking primarily on DEC-managed public hunting grounds. The farm also raised another 15,000 7- to 10-week old birds which were distributed to cooperators in the Young Pheasant Release Program. Those birds were then raised and released on approved sites.

Another 60,000 day-old chicks were hatched and distributed to cooperators in DEC's Day-Old Chick Program, in which clubs and individuals - including many youth - then raised birds to adulthood. All birds had to be released on lands open to hunting.

DEC estimated it cost the state $18 to raise an adult bird.

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