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November 16, 2009

NY Pheasant Stocking

Humane Groups Oppose Proposed 10-Year Extension of Cruel, Wasteful Pheasant Program

The Humane Society of the United States

This week, The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society of New York, New York League of Humane Voters and New York State Humane Association submitted comments to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation opposing the continuation of pheasant stocking. In the wake of Gov. David Paterson's proposal to close the Richard E. Reynolds Game Farm that produces 100,000 pheasants annually, the DEC is proposing a draft plan to extend its wasteful and inhumane pheasant stocking program for the next decade.

The HSUS comments are available here.

In past years, the DEC spent $750,000 annually to release pheasants on public land for shooters. These farm-reared birds have limited survival skills and represent a nonnative species. Studies consistently show that if shooters do not kill the animals immediately, the birds succumb to harsh weather, get eaten by predators or starve.

"These birds are literally sitting ducks for waiting shooters," said The HSUS' New York state director Patrick Kwan. "The DEC should not be in the business of raising animals in incubators to be shot and calling it wildlife management. Traditional hunting demands that animals be given a reasonable chance to escape, not thrown from the back of a truck at an announced time and date."

The draft Ten-Year Management Plan for Ring-Necked Pheasants in New York calls for the annual stocking of 30,000 adults and distribution of 60,000 chicks to clubs in a cooperative rearing program. 

One commendable aspect of the proposal calls for the ending of the Young Adult Pheasant Release program. This program included the annual release of 30,000 young birds during the summer. Overwhelmingly, these birds succumbed to predators or the elements and did not even survive to the fall shooting season.

Background:

  • Ring-necked pheasants are native to Asia and cannot find the habitat in New York to naturalize and reproduce; consequently, the DEC hand-rears birds for shooters. The farm raising process produces tamer birds unable to survive in the wild. 
  • To make sure that shooters, instead of coyotes, kill the exotic birds, the animals are stocked just prior to and throughout hunting season, creating an unethical hunting situation.
  • Pheasant stocking panders to a shrinking constituency. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New York small game hunters declined by 36 percent from 1996 to 2006. According to informal DEC surveys, pheasant hunters number less than 50,000. Wildlife watchers, those who enjoy New York's wildlife by hiking or bird watching, numbered more than 3.5 million in 2006 and continue to increase.
  • After handing out chicks for rearing and release onto public land, the state does not conduct follow-up inspections of facilities to ensure that animals are treated humanely or that environmental conditions do not lead to massive die-offs.

The HSUS works to stop wildlife abuse and animal cruelty across the country. Visit humanesociety.org/wildlifeabuse for more information.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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