Birds Acquired to Enable Planned Pheasant Releases Following Spring’s HPAI Outbreak

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that the fall 2023 pheasant season will proceed as planned. After the loss of the pheasant flock at DEC’s Reynolds Game Farm earlier this year due to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), DEC is acquiring ring-necked pheasants from a commercial hatchery to supplement fall upland bird hunting opportunities around the state. Every year, DEC releases 30,000 pheasants on more than 100 properties that are open to the public for pheasant hunting.

“Pheasant hunting serves as an introduction to hunting for many New York hunters,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC was devastated by the loss of the State’s breeder flock this spring and is grateful to be able to offer the pheasant program this fall and beyond.”

New York does not have sufficient habitat quantity on a large landscape scale needed to support a wild, self-sustaining pheasant population, so the chance to harvest pheasants on publicly accessible lands relies on DEC’s pheasant propagation program. Pheasant hunting provides excellent opportunities to engage new hunters of all ages and to re-engage people who no longer hunt. In this way, the pheasant propagation program is an important hunter recruitment tool and many of these birds will be distributed to organizations hosting sponsored pheasant hunts for youth, people with disabilities, women, and novice hunters.

Both young (8-12 weeks) and adult birds will be received at Reynolds Game Farm over the coming weeks and raised until they are ready for stocking at locations around the state. DEC will continue to follow existing HPAI protocols to protect the flock and remains committed to producing and releasing pheasants in 2023 and beyond.