2009-01-15 / Local & State

Pa. Getting Thousands Of Pheasants From Montana

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) - An effort is under way to bring thousands of wild pheasants from Montana to more than 14,000 acres across several western Pennsylvania sites, both to expand game bird hunting and benefit the environment.

Members of Pheasants Forever, a national group, are spearheading efforts to bring wild pheasants to Washington and Montour counties and Brothersvalley and Stonycreek townships. The plan calls for 1,000 birds to be transplanted into each project site over the course of three years.

Group members hope the wild pheasants from Montana will survive, reproduce and start lasting flocks in the state.

"We are just hoping to see pheasants take off and thrive," group member Jenny Booth said. Her family farm is one of 80 properties that have been offered in Brothersvalley and Stonycreek townships.

To aid in the survival of the wild birds, member Greg Urban said, the group is planting warmseason grasses, making food plots and clearing brush. If the project is successful, he said, the environment will be improved and hunting recreation will be expanded.

"I am not saying it is going to work," Urban said. "I am saying it has a real good shot."

More than $200,000 will be needed to see the project through. Urban said grants and donations have paid for much of the work.

Pheasants are about the size of a rooster and are typically stocked by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. But Urban, who also works for the commission, said such birds are raised in captivity and lack instincts for survival.

"The mother does not teach the young to protect themselves from predators," he said.

Urban estimated that the commission stocks about 3,000 birds a year but only about 10 percent survive.

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