The RESULTS from POLL 444
Should Wisconsin DNR continue the pheasant stocking program?

YES = 89%
NO = 11%
MAYBE = 0%

9 Responses out of  265 Impressions  |  NO COMMENTS were left


Should Wisconsin DNR continue the pheasant stocking program?
Wisconsin raises some 50,000 pheasants annually at the State Game Farm in Poynette and stocks them on public hunting grounds for put-and-take hunting. The program was cut back several years ago, then restored to its current level. Wisconsin hunters killed an estimated 323,000 pheasants last season and 360,000 in 2007, so it is clear that most of the pheasants shot are wild birds, not those raised and released by the DNR. Is it time to use the money now spent on the pheasant-stocking program to create more habitat for wild pheasants?
Improvements to the State Game Farm, including a new hatchery and increasing cooperation with another state agency, are key recommendations coming out of an internal evaluation of the Department of Natural Resources’ pheasant stocking program.

“We want to assure (that) all we do delivers high quality ring-necked pheasants to hunters using the most fiscally responsible means possible,” said Bob Nack, State Game Farm director.

“Constructing a new, fully-equipped hatchery, as recommended in the report, would underscore DNR’s support for continuing production and stocking of pheasants from the State Game Farm in the long term,” he added.

Many hunters rely on pheasants released by DNR on public hunting grounds to pursue their sport. Birds are hatched and reared at the agency’s State Game Farm near Poynette. The facility has been located at Poynette since 1934 and was last upgraded in 1982 with the addition of environmentally controlled breeding and rearing barns.

Pheasant stocking will take place on 71 properties in 28 counties during 2009. Pre-season stocking takes place during the week prior to opening day (Oct. 17 in 2009), with most properties stocked twice per week for the first three weeks of the season and once per week for the next month. In addition, the State Game Farm provides 800 to 1,000 pheasants annually to DNR sponsored Learn to Hunt Pheasant programs.

The program review looked at pheasant production alternatives and the Day-old Chick (DOC) program, evaluated the infrastructure at the State Game Farm along with future goals and strategies, and explored increased cooperation with the state Department of Corrections in raising pheasants.

The current hatchery has been in use since 1934 and the incubators are 1950’s models. Despite the facility’s age, Game Farm staff has done a remarkable job of maintaining aging equipment and producing high quality ring-necked pheasants, noted Mr. Nack.

The State Game Farm also provides day-old chicks to conservation clubs enrolled in the DOC program. Cooperating clubs sign an agreement that states they agree to provide all labor and costs for raising the birds.

Under this agreement, the clubs may either release pheasants on private land open to public pheasant hunting or on approved state-owned lands or release birds on private land closed to public hunting, but they must return a percentage of the pheasants they raised back to DNR.

The DOC program currently involves 34 conservation clubs in 21 counties and the Game Farm normally provides about 35,000 rooster chicks to these clubs.

Both the DNR stocking on public lands and the DOC program “are extremely important to Wisconsin pheasant hunters,” noted the Game Farm director.

Based on the Wisconsin Pheasant Stocking Program Evaluation, DNR’s Wildlife Management Bureau is recommending to:
  1. Continue in-house pheasant production at the State Game Farm.
  2. Prioritize capital development funds to build a new hatchery and equipment storage building at Poynette.
  3. Update the DOC program as requested by cooperating conservation clubs.
  4. Increase cooperation with the state Department of Corrections over the next five years. Currently, DNR has satellite rearing facilities at Correctional Centers at Oregon in Dane County and Oneida in Brown County.
  5. Increase in the managed hunt fees at the Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha County.
The evaluation of Wisconsin’s pheasant stocking program was conducted by Bob Nack, State Game Farm director, Poynette; Scott Hull, DNR upland gamebird specialist, Madison; and Marty Johnson, DNR wildlife biologist, Sturtevant; in cooperation with DNR’s Pheasant Committee; Don Bates, CWD operations supervisor (and former Game Farm manager), Dodgeville; and DNR South Central Region wildlife supervisor Eric Lobner, Fitchburg.

The state legislature in 2006 directed 60 percent of the revenue generated from pheasant stamp sales to the propagation and stocking of pheasants on state-owned lands. That same year, the cost of a pheasant stamp increased from $7.25 to $10.00 and in 2007 a stamp was required for all pheasant hunting statewide. Pheasant stamp fund revenue dedicated to pheasant propagation was about $400,000 in 2008 and will likely increase in the future.
CONTACT: For more information, contact the Game Farm office at 608-635-8120.

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