Wyoming Considers Options For Pheasant Releases This Fall

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In response to recent disease outbreaks at its Downar Bird Farm, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is considering options for maintaining some pheasant releases to provide hunting opportunities this fall.

Last month, WGFD personnel confirmed the presence of cecal worms in pheasants at the bird farm, which is near Torrington. They also discovered Chlamydiophila psittaci, which causes the disease psittacosis. To help contain the diseases and prevent future outbreaks, department personnel euthanized approximately 1200 pheasants from the farm's brood stock on May 18.

Last week, some recently hatched chicks at the bird farm began showing disease symptoms. Because of the high probability that all chicks and unhatched eggs had been affected by disease, and because of potential human health risks, department personnel destroyed all unhatched eggs and euthanized all chicks at the bird farm.

Approximately 15,000 pheasants raised at the Downar Bird Farm are released annually to provide hunting opportunities at various locations. Around 5,700 of these birds are used in the department's popular managed pheasant hunt at the Springer Wildlife Habitat Management Area.

"We're currently working with the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to evaluate options for continuing to provide pheasant hunting opportunities despite the loss of production this year at Downar," said WGFD Wildlife Chief Brian Nesvik. We're hopeful that we will be able to continue to provide quality hunting experiences in spite of the disease problems we've experienced this year. As this issue evolves, we will continue to keep the public informed about hunting opportunities this fall."

"This disease outbreak is an extremely rare event - something we have never before experienced in more than 70 years of raising pheasants in Wyoming," said Nesvik. "We are continuing to investigate this event to try and learn more about what may have caused it and how we might prevent something like this from happening again. All of our staff involved with this very unpleasant and difficult problem have performed their duties with the utmost professionalism and dedication to the resource and our agency."