ALBANY — Applications are available for the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s cooperative pheasant chick program, which allows people to participate in raising and releasing pheasants for fall hunting.

Day-old chicks are available at no cost from the Reynolds Game Farm. Approved applicants will receive the chicks in April, May or June.

No chicks obtained through the program can be released on private shooting preserves and all release sites must be approved in advance by DEC and be open for public pheasant hunting opportunities.

Applicants are required to provide shelter and daily care to the rapidly growing chicks, monitor the birds’ health and ensure the chicks have adequate feed and water.

Contact the nearest DEC regional office for applications and additional information. Applications must be filed with a DEC regional wildlife manager by March 25. A “Pheasant Rearing Guide” and applications are available on DEC’s website.

For questions about the program or eligibility, email wildlife@dec.ny.gov or call (607) 273-2768.

Changes in Atlantic Population Canada goose zone seasons

Atlantic Population (AP) Canada geese nest throughout northern Quebec and winter from New England to South Carolina.

New York is located in the heart of the AP goose’s Atlantic Flyway and serves as a major migration corridor. These geese are a significant proportion of the harvest throughout Upstate New York, especially in the Finger Lakes, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River, Lake Champlain and the Hudson River Valley regions.

Season length and daily bag limits are more restrictive in these areas to protect migrating birds. While local Canada geese in Upstate are highly productive and have extremely high survival, the migratory Canada geese (that look nearly identical) are not so lucky, DEC officials note.

The AP geese take longer to sexually mature, have smaller clutch sizes and lower survival. In some years, their breeding habitat isn’t thawed until late June. In those years, productivity can be near zero, as was the case in 2018. Based on weather data, productivity in 2020 was also very low, DEC reports.

Due to excessive harvest rate and shift in harvest distribution, the Atlantic Flyway Council recommended that when seasons are restrictive, all states should have the same regulations to allow populations to rebound as quickly as possible. Therefore, the regular Canada goose season will be reduced to a 30-day season with a daily bag limit of one in the West Central, East Central, Northeast, Lake Champlain and Hudson Valley zones.

Harvest restrictions have also been made in Quebec and Ontario. The reduction in harvest will hopefully shorten the amount of time we are in a restrictive package. When the population rebounds, DEC anticipates season lengths and bag limits will be liberalized.

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