Pennsylvania Game Commission Announces Fall Pheasant Stocking Plans
Bad News: flooding at two game farms reduced allocation by nearly 31,000 pheasants and late season stockings have been eliminated;
Good News: production goal for 2012 remains at 200,000 birds
Saying there is bad news and good news for the future of pheasant hunting, Pennsylvania Game Commission officials today announced that hunters still should expect to see the agency’s pheasant stocking efforts increase to 200,000 birds for the 2012-12 license year. However, because of recent flooding impacts at two of the agency’s game farms, hunters will notice a significant reduction in pheasant stockings this year.
"Prior to the flooding from Tropical Storm Lee, Game Commission game farms were on track to have more than 104,000 ring-necked pheasants for release on public lands throughout the Commonwealth for the upcoming small game hunting seasons," said Carl G. Roe, agency executive director. "Unfortunately, flood waters that wrecked havoc for tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians also destroyed pheasant holding fields at the Loyalsock and Northcentral game farms in Lycoming County."
"Initial reports showed about 40,000 birds either perished in flood waters or escaped when the netting and fencing providing containment for holding fields were swept away. Game Farm employees have been working diligently to round up the birds that escaped; we have recaptured more than 10,000 birds and may be able to recapture a few hundred more by the time our stocking trucks roll out for State Game Lands and other lands open to public hunting."
Roe noted the agency’s other two game farms – the Western Game Farm in Crawford County and the Southwestern Game Farm in Armstrong County – were not impacted by flood waters. Combined with the birds unaffected by the flood and recaptured around the two Lycoming County game farms, the agency has reduced pheasant allocations across the state by an equal share – about 30 percent.
Based on the present figures, the minimum number of birds to be stocked this year will be 73,390 pheasants, including 11,510 birds for the junior-only season (Oct. 8-15). Roe stressed that this across-the-board reduction will not impact the 1,800 pheasants allocated for those clubs sponsoring mentored pheasant hunts for juniors on Oct. 8, but plans to stock pheasants for the late season (Dec. 26-Feb. 4) have been cancelled.
"We regret not being able to stock pheasants for the popular late season, but the large number of hens lost at the Loyalsock farm, coupled with the need for an increased number of hens for full production for next year, left us no choice" Roe said. "Counties that were to receive hens during the late season have been allocated an equal number of roosters during the earlier releases."
The pheasant stockings will begin Oct. 7, when the agency will release 11,510 birds (6,880 males and 4,630 females) for the junior pheasant hunt scheduled for Oct. 8-15. A listing of stocking locations for the youth hunt can be found on pages 25-27 of the 2011-12 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which is provided to each license buyer.
Roe noted that, based on agency budget cuts first implemented in the 2004-05 fiscal year and carried forward since, pheasant propagation production levels were reduced by 50 percent to 100,000 birds. Reducing the pheasant propagation program saved the agency more than $500,000 annually. However, thanks to monies from recent Marcellus Shale-related gas leases on State Game Lands, the agency announced its plans to return to the 200,000-bird level for the 2012-13 seasons, which is consistent with the Game Commission’s Strategic Plan and Pheasant Management Plan.
"From the first photos that we began to receive of the damages at the two Lycoming County game farms, we were concerned about our pledge to increase pheasant production to 200,000 birds for the 2012 seasons," Roe said. "However, despite the loss of birds and damage to holding pens, we suffered no significant impacts to our core infrastructure."
"Hatcheries, brooder houses, barns, workshops, farm equipment and waterlines in the fields were relatively untouched. We will retain a sufficient number of hen pheasants to serve as a breeder flock to enable us to reach the 200,000 pheasant hunting season release level next year."
Roe noted that the biggest challenge will be to restore enough holding fields at the Northcentral and Loyalsock farms to contain their quota of birds. All holding fields at the Northcentral game farm were damaged to varying degrees. Half of the holding fields at the Loyalsock were unaffected by the flood, but the other half were damaged to varying degrees.
Opening day of the general pheasant hunting season is Oct. 22, and closes on Nov. 26. Pre-season stocking of pheasants in each region will begin Oct. 19, followed by the first and second in-season stockings on Oct. 27 or 28, and Nov. 3 and 4. Third in-season stocking will be conducted on Nov. 10 in areas surrounding the Somerset, Central Susquehanna, Hegins-Gratz Valley and Franklin County Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas. Only male pheasants are legal game in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2A, 2B, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B. Male and female pheasants are legal game in all other WMUs.
During the regular fall season, the agency focuses pheasant stocking on State Game Lands and select state parks and federal lands. However, in some areas where habitat conditions on public lands are marginal, birds may be stocked on properties enrolled in the Game Commission public access program. The Game Commission has an updated publication titled "Pheasant Management Program," which identifies State Game Lands, and those state parks and federal lands with suitable habitat that receive pheasant stockings. This publication can be found on the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), and can be viewed by putting your cursor over "Hunt/Trap" in the menu bar at the top of the page, clicking on "Hunting," clicking on "Pheasant" in the "Small Game" listing and then choosing "Pheasant Management Program" in the "Programs" listing.
As part of the agency’s Ring-necked Pheasant Management Plan, the Game Commission is taking steps to restore self-sustaining and huntable populations of wild pheasants in suitable habitats called "Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas" (WPRAs). For the 2011-12 seasons, WPRAs are defined as the Pike Run, Somerset, Central Susquehanna, Hegins-Gratz Valley and Franklin County WPRAs. (The Franklin WPRA wasn’t included in the 2011-12 Digest as it was approved after the digest went to print.) The agency is facilitating the release of wild-trapped pheasants into these areas, with a goal of achieving a density of 10 hen pheasants per square mile.
For the 2011-12 seasons, the WPRAs will be defined as follows:
(1) Pike Run WPRA: The portion of Washington County, WMU 2A, bounded on the east by the Monongahela River, on the north by I-70, on the west by PA Rt. 917 to Swagler Rd. to Spring Valley Rd. to PA Rt. 2015 to Lone Pine Rd. to the intersection with Tenmile Creek in West Zollarsville, and bounded on the south by Tenmile Creek.
(2) Somerset WPRA: That portion of Somerset County, WMU 2C, bounded on the western side starting at the intersection of Coleman Station Rd. and Stutzmantown Rd. proceeding south on Coleman Station Rd., crossing SR 31, to Brotherton Rd., continuing south to Round Hill Rd., then east onto Wills Church Rd., then to Archery Rd. The boundary then follows Berlin Plank Rd. (US Rt. 219) south into the town of Berlin where it joins the Mason Dixon Hwy. (US Rt. 219) proceeding south to Pine Hill Rd. to Walker School Rd. then east on Maple Valley Rd., to Sawmill Rd. to the Cumberland Hwy. (SR 160). The boundary then follows the Cumberland Hwy. (SR 160) south to Salco Rd. and then proceeds north on Salco Rd. to Huckleberry Hwy. (SR 160) in the town of Berlin. The boundary follows Huckleberry Hwy. (SR 160) north, crossing SR 31, to the intersection of Roxbury Rd., then north to Shanksville Rd. The boundary then proceeds north to Stutzmantown Rd., then west to the beginning at the intersection of Coleman Station Rd.
(3) Central Susquehanna WPRA: Portions of WMU 4E in Northumberland, Montour, Columbia and Lycoming counties from the West Branch of the Susquehanna River south to the intersection with PA Rt. 642 and the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Milton. The southern boundary is defined by PA Rt. 642 east from Milton to Mausdale, then north on PA Rt. 642 to just south of Jerseytown, proceeding east on Eyersgrove Rd. to Eyers Grove at PA Rt.42. Proceeding south on PA Rt. 42 to Mordansville, northeast of Mordansville along Robbins Rd. (Rt. 600) to Mordansville Rd. (Rt. 541), south on Millertown Rd. (Rt. 4011), then continuing east to follow Mount Pleasant Rd. (Rt. 4020) and Mount Pleasant St. (PA Rt. 4034) to Orangeville at the southeast corner of the WPRA. PA Rt. 487 lines the eastern boundary from Orangeville north to Maple Grove/intersection with PA Rt. 254. The northern boundary begins with PA Rt. 254 west of Maple Grove to the intersection with Winters Rd. (Rt. 459) proceeding west to the intersection with Austin Trail (PA Rt. 4039). Continuing west on Owl Rd. (Rt. 599), north and west on Reese Rd. (Rt. 578), and north and west on Trivelpiece Rd. (Rt. 576). Eagle Rd. (PA Rt. 4037) then continues northwest to the intersection with Whitehorse Rd./Whitehorse Pike (Rt. 661) heading west to just south of Sereno, and then south on PA Rt. 42 to Millville. From Millville, proceeding southwest on PA Rt. 254 to Jerseytown. Then northwest on PA Rt. 44, north on Swartz Rd., west on Shultz Rd., north on Ants Hill Rd., west on Wolf Hollow Rd., then north on Katy’s Church Rd. Crossing into Lycoming County and proceeding northwest on G Wagner Rd., west on Ridge Rd., crossing into Montour County, southwest on County Line Rd., south on Muncy Exchange Rd. (PA Rt. 1003), west on Hickory Rd. (PA Rt. 1008), west on Mingle Rd. (Rt. 433), west on Hickory Rd. (PA Rt. 1008) for the second time, and proceeding north on Gearhart Hollow Rd. (Rt. 441). Continuing west on Showers Rd. (PA Rt. 1010), crossing into Northumberland County, proceeding north and west on Pugmore Lane, north on Hockley Hill Rd. (PA Rt. 1011), west on Miller Rd. (Rt. 653), continuing southwest on Balliet Rd. (Rt. 664). Proceeding northwest and west on Schmidt Rd. (Rt. 564). continuing north on Susquehanna Trail (PA Rt. 1007), continuing west on Hughes Rd. (Rt. 655), crossing under I-180, proceeding south on Crawford Rd. (Rt. 507) to PA Rt. 54. Proceeding northwest on PA Rt. 54 to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
(4) Hegins-Gratz Valley WPRA: That portion of WMU 4E in Schuylkill and Dauphin counties from Matterstown Road (Rt. 1007), to PA Rt. 901 at Taylorsville. The WPRA is bounded on the north by the Mahantango Creek. Beginning at the town of Pillow in Dauphin county, proceeding east on Market Street (Rt. 1026) to the Mahantango Creek, which is the Northumberland and Dauphin county border until entering Schuylkill county at Klingerstown. Continuing northeast along the Mahantango Creek in Schuylkill county to Taylorsville Road (Rt. 4039) at Haas, to Taylorsville and then proceeding south on PA Rt. 901. Proceeding south and southeast on PA Rt. 901 to I-81. Proceeding southwest on I-81 and then west on PA Rt. 25, then from PA Rt. 25, proceeding south and west on Dell Road and then northwest and west on Pine Drive (State Hwy. 4009), continuing west on Pine Drive, T593 and north on T592 to Pine Creek. The southern boundary then follows Pine Creek west along the northern side of Broad Mountain to Spring Glen. From Spring Glen, continuing west on PA Rt. 25, crossing into Dauphin county to Gratz, then proceeding southwest from Gratz on Specktown Road (State Hwy. 1014) to South Crossroads Road (PA Rt. 1009). Proceeding south on South Crossroads Road (PA Rt. 1009) to PA Rt. 209 and southwest to Elizabethville. From Elizabethville continue west on Main Street (PA Rt. 209), then turn north onto Botts Road (T462). At the first intersection, turn north onto Feidt Road (T461), then turn 24 east onto West Matterstown Road (Rt. 4008), turn north onto Matterstown Road (Rt. 1007). Turn right or east onto Berrysburg Road (PA Rt. 25) which turns into Market St. Turn left or north onto Lykens St. Turn right or east onto Mountain Road (T639). Turn left or north on PA Rt. 225 into Pillow on PA Rt. 225, ending at Market St. (Rt. 1026).
(5) Franklin County WPRA. That Portion of Wildlife Management Units 4A and 5A in Franklin County from PA Rt. 30 on the northern border to the Pennsylvania/Maryland state border on the southern border, and from Cove Mountain on the western border to the towns of Laurich and Williamson and the Conococheague Creek on the eastern border. The WPRA is bounded on the north by PA Rt. 30 (Lincoln Highway). Beginning at the town of Fort Loudon at the intersection of PA Rt. 30 (Lincoln Highway) and PA Rt. 75, proceed east on PA Rt. 30 (Lincoln Highway), through St. Thomas, and continue east to Laurich. Just east of Laurich, proceed south along Back Creek to SR3012 (Jack Road). Proceed west along SR3012 (Jack Road), then south along Weber Road. Continue south and southwest along Weber Road to the intersection of Weber, Grapevine and Jacks Mill Roads. Proceed southwest along Grapevine Road and then northwest to intersection with SR 3013. Turn south onto SR 3013 (St Thomas Williamson Road) and then west onto State Rt. 995. Proceed west and then south on State Rt. 995 through Williamson to the West Branch of the Conococheague Creek (northeast of Welsh Run). Proceed along the West Branch of the Conococheague Creek to the confluence with Conococheague Creek. Follow the Conococheague Creek south to the Pennsylvania/Maryland state border. Proceed west along the PA/MD state border to State Rt. 456. Proceed northeast along State Rt. 456 to State Route 16. Proceed east on State Route 16 to Mountain Road. Proceed northeast on Mountain Road to State Rt. 75. Proceed northwest on State Rt. 75 to the intersection of State Rt. 75 and State Rt. 30 at Fort Loudon.
To give these wild pheasants the best opportunity to establish naturally reproducing populations, the Board has banned the release of any artificially propagated pheasants, including Game Commission-raised pheasants, in these areas, and pheasant hunting is closed in these WPRAs. Also, to limit disturbances to nesting hen pheasants, dog training of any manner and small game hunting, except for groundhog and waterfowl, will be prohibited in these WPRAs from the first Sunday in February through July 31 each year.
"Working with major partners, such as Pheasants Forever, the University of California and local landowners, we already have a jump start on creating WPRAs," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. "These groups have invested in creating pheasant habitat in four areas of the state. To make the best use of the agency’s resources, and with the support of these partners, we have established these areas as the first WPRAs in the state."
For more information on the WPRA boundaries, please see 22-23 of the 2011-12 Digest.
A regional breakdown for the junior, regular and late season stockings are as follows: Northwest Region, 5,230 males and 8,390 females; Southwest Region, 14,020 males and 4,170 females; Northcentral Region, 4,730 males and 3,430 females; Southcentral Region, 7,230 males and 3,850 females; Northeast Region, 5,870 males and 3,060 females; and Southeast Region 11,120 males and 2,290 females. Regional allocations are based on the amount of suitable pheasant habitat open to public hunting and pheasant hunting pressure.
To offer hunters better information about the stocking schedule, the Game Commission has posted on its website charts for each of its six regions outlining the number of birds to be stocked in each county, the public properties slated to be stocked and a two- to three-day window in which stockings will take place within the counties. To view the charts, go to the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), put your cursor over "Hunt/Trap" in the menu bar at the top of the page, click on "Hunting," click on "Pheasant" in the "Small Game" listing and then choose "Pheasant Allocation" and click on the map for the county or region of interest.
Roe reminded hunters that, several years ago, the agency enacted a regulation aimed at improving safety for agency employees and vehicles involved in pheasant stocking.
"Each year, when Game Commission personnel are releasing pheasants from the stocking trucks, employees and trucks are shot at by unsuspecting hunters in the field. To prevent this, the agency approved a regulation that prohibits hunters from discharging a firearm within 150 yards of a Game Commission vehicle releasing pheasants. As we provide better information about when and where stockings will be conducted, we remind hunters that they have an obligation to ensure that no stocking trucks or personnel are in the vicinity."
This year, the late season is scheduled for Dec. 12-23 and Dec. 26-Feb. 4, for Wildlife Management Units 1A, 1B, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4D, 5C and 5D. During the late season, male and female pheasants are legal game in these WMUs. All other WMUs are closed during these dates. However, as noted previously, the agency will not be stocking pheasants this year for the late season.
For details on the pheasant seasons, please see pages 21-27 of the 2011-12 Digest. For more information about the clubs that sponsor junior pheasant hunts, go to the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), put your cursor over "Hunt/Trap" in the menu bar at the top of the page, click on "Hunting," click on "Pheasant" in the "Small Game" listing and then look under the "Junior Youth Pheasant Hunt" category.
To augment the Game Commission’s pheasant stocking program, Roe noted that each January sportsmen’s clubs are invited to enroll in the agency’s "Pheasant Chick Program." As part of the program, clubs are required to erect appropriate facilities, purchase feed and cover other expenses, and then they can receive pheasant chicks to raise and release for hunting and dog training purposes on lands open to public hunting in their local community.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for sportsmen to get kids involved in raising pheasants and to learn more about wildlife and habitat requirements," Roe said. "Kids can be involved in raising the birds, assist in developing habitat in their community, and help release the pheasants into the wild. Our game farm superintendents can assist sportsmen’s clubs by providing technical advice and training to get a facility started."
"We are striving to live within our current revenues. Now, more than ever, we need sportsmen’s clubs to help us in many aspects, including raising pheasants."
Also, Richard Palmer, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Protection director, reminded hunters that an executive order remains in effect that bans dog training on State Game Lands from the Monday prior to the start of the youth pheasant season until the close of the youth pheasant season, which, for this coming season, translates to Oct. 3-15. The order does not, in any manner, prohibit dog handlers from using dogs as part of a junior-only pheasant hunt activity or for dog training activities on any lands other than State Game Lands. He also noted that this order does not impact dog training activities statewide during the remainder of the year, including general small game seasons.