Permit required for pheasant hunters

HARRISBURG — Even though pheasant production has been trimmed, hunters heading afield this fall might not notice much difference in the number of pheasants they flush. The Game Commission still plans to release about 170,000 pheasants, a modest reduction from the goal of 200,000 pheasants in recent years. And nearly all of those birds are being released on public lands, which have the best hunter access and pheasant habitat, and highest harvest rates.

Additionally, with a new, interactive stocking map available at www.pgc., it’s easier than ever for hunters to find out where and when pheasants were released.

Pheasant season kicks off Oct. 7, with the one-week junior hunt, then opens statewide Oct. 21.

All adult and senior license holders who hunt pheasants in 2017-18 seasons are required to purchase a pheasant permit in addition to their general hunting license. The permit, which costs $26.90, is not required for junior license holders.

The Game Commission’s more than 100-year-old pheasant program produces the largest number of pheasants available to hunters. But with annual costs of the program escalating to $4.7 million in recent years, the agency made dramatic changes to the propagation program to reduce expenditures, generate critical revenue and maintain the quality of propagated pheasants.

The plan worked. The closure of two pheasant farms midway through the fiscal year reduced the programs costs to $3.7 million in 2016-17. And those costs are expected to come down further in 2017-18. One important cost-saving change to the program is the shift to purchasing day-old chicks from a private vendor, eliminating the need to carry over a breeding flock or maintain hatchery operations.

And with the new pheasant permit, hunters have a chance to directly support the program by providing funding to help pay for it.

New revenue generated from sales of pheasant hunting permits could help support future fall releases of about 200,000 pheasants, which could be accomplished through modest infrastructure investments.