12/12/2011 9:55:02 PM
Section 9: Hunting
Subject: New Jersey Pheasant Msg# 813554
The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife has completed a final inventory of pheasants remaining at its Rockport Pheasant Farm after three weeks of statewide stocking. The inventory showed that the number of pheasants that had escaped from pens damaged by the October 29 snowstorm was higher than originally estimated. The number of remaining pheasants revealed that as many as 20,000 pheasants escaped from the pens and approximately 14,000 of those birds were not recovered.
Due to the larger than estimated losses, the Division regretfully informs pheasant stamp buyers that December 17 will be the final pheasant stocking date on Wildlife Management Areas this year.
After the October storm damage and prior to the beginning of the stocking season, a commitment was made to stock all WMAs with the originally scheduled quantities of birds through the December 17 stocking. In order to fulfill its promise to stamp buyers, 3,000 pheasants are being purchased from a game farm in Maryland to complete the December 17 stocking of 3,940 pheasants.
The last stocking will bring the total number of pheasants stocked this year to 35,670, which is 14,330 less than the goal of 50,000. Calls to New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania pheasant farms to obtain the 3,000 pheasants needed for the last stocking confirmed the catastrophic impact of the October storm on pheasant production along the entire storm track in the Northeast. Although it may be little consolation to New Jersey pheasant stamp buyers, many tri-state pheasant farms sustained even higher percentage losses of pheasants than were lost at the Rockport Pheasant Farm.
Stamp buyers can be assured the Division did everything that possibly could have been done to lessen the impact of the storm on this year’s pheasant stocking program. Rockport staff were at the farm by 6:30 am the morning of the storm before the snow began to fall. They were joined by crews from the Bureaus of Freshwater Fisheries and Land Management to work well into the dark removing snow that stuck to the wire and netting, and moving pheasants from the older wire mesh pens, which eventually were completely destroyed. These crews along with staff from the Wildlife Services Section returned Sunday morning and worked throughout the day to remove snow from tops of pens holding the breeder birds and to adjust netting on other pens to minimize damage from the weight of the snow. This was followed by more than two weeks of intensive efforts by staff from throughout the state to capture escaped birds and make necessary repairs. This year’s pheasant stocking season would have ended much earlier than December 17 had there not been this enormous effort prior to the storm, immediately after the storm and the following two weeks.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife appreciates the feedback received from hunters who recognized what was done in response to the storm and thanks hunters who purchased pheasant stamps this year knowing the potential impact the record storm could have on late season stocking.
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