Do you think raising Pheasants to hunt is ethical?

Ttannahill14

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I've struggled with this issue for a few years now and haven't quite decided what my stance is on it. So maybe you guys can get me some info, facts, or opinions that will sway me one way or the other.

I think most of us on this forum are on board that high fence hunting is unethical, and flat out not hunting. But what about when it's done for upland birds?

Here in Kansas we have pretty solid pheasant quail habitat across the state, but one dry summer can really hurt the population numbers for years. People around here do a few different things to solve the problem of lack of birds.

1. Raise birds in a pen. Release birds the morning of a hunt. Go back, pick up your hunting buddies and dogs, and go hunt the 20 birds you just released on a quarter section of CRP. Most these birds don't fly very well and I have even heard of guys literally kicking the birds into the air to get them to fly so they can shoot them.

2. Raise birds do adult age. Release a bunch of birds at the beginning of season. Hunt all season long. Birds still don'y fly very well.

3. Put chicks in a surrogator. Basically a box that gives the chicks food, water, protection, and warmth and then automatically opens them to the wild at 5 weeks. These birds have very little human interaction and are the "wildest" birds possible in the pheasant farming world.


I personally, have never done any of them. I would like to know some more information on if this causes any disease or sickness on the naturally born pheasants or any negative affect on any of the other wildlife.

So what do you think? are all 3 options unethical? I've considered putting a surragator on my ground to help with the numbers. But just can't do it yet until I've fully decided what I believe.

FYI- There are no fences involved. The birds can fly wherever they want including my neighbors ground. I'm just trying to boost the population, if ethical.
 

Danvet

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I don't look at any of the methods you mentioned as "unethical". I would not enjoy hunting in the first 2 scenarios simply because of the decreased flying ability. Also, I don't think that these methods would have much of affect on populations...to easy for predators. I could handle doing it if my main objective was dog training. The surrogator approach is another story. I have seen some very good data on survivability and affect on population with operators who have been doing it awhile. As everyone knows, upland birds have the numbers against them even if everything's pretty good. If I had the habitat, I certainly would give the surrogators a try. My opinion.
 

Mthuntr

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Since pen raised pheasants have an extremely high mortality, I don't see an unethical issues with a put and take scenario...better get the 410 out. Even Pheasants Forever suggests that if you want to shoot more birds and work your dogs in an area with low populations this may be your only option. You do run the risk of increasing predators in areas with pen raised birds. Some coyote hunters could help remedy this.

Pheasants have been documented to nest dump (lay eggs in native bird nests) as a form of parasitism...http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/documents/R2ES/LitCited/LPC_2012/Westemeier_et_al_1998.pdf. So that could be an issue but who knows.
 

Topgun 30-06

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First off, I certainly wouldn't equate what you're talking about with high fence hunting in an enclosure where the game has no chance to escape. If done properly, raising and releasing birds presents just as much of a challenge as hunting ones that are wild. You may not realize it but that is one reason there are so many pheasants up in SD because many places are doing exactly what you are thinking about.
 

devon deer

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I don't really feel qualified to give any input into pheasant hunting in the US, but in the UK the pheasant isn't indigenous, they have been introduced.

But rearing for sport, i don't have a problem with it where i live, in reasonable quantities, but what disgusts me in the UK are the commercial shoots, as an example my farmer friend breeds and releases 250 a year, they might shoot 40%, all of which get eaten.
Compare that to a commercial shoot, some release 70k+ and a fair share get buried after the shoot!
Some are walked up (my preferred way) but some are driven by a line of beaters to stationery guns.

Disease can also be a problem and has to be kept a close eye on.

Regarding the release, at 6 weeks the poults get put in a pen, a little while later the 'peep' holes are opened up so they can 'explore' and hopefully return to the pen, if the fox doesn't find them first!



Cheers

Richard
 

Ttannahill14

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Thanks I'm glad you guys seem okay with it. I don't think I would do the release them the morning of just because when they don't fly it's not very much fun and the line to call that hunting gets blurry.

But I think I could get behind the surrogate idea. And I could probably build one for way cheaper than the $2000 price tag on the website.
 

TimeOnTarget

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I've hunted/guided over released birds and wild birds both. If raised correctly the pen-raised birds are almost as wild as wild birds. Not quite, but most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

In tough years, we would release birds a couple hours before the hunt. These birds flew just as well as the ones that had been out in the wild for half the season.

I've got no problem with it I guess.
 
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First: I am not a pheasant hunter. With that said, I am very, very interested in becoming one - but I've got elk on my mind first, then I will focus on pheasants.

Now with the disclaimer of "I don't have a clue what I'm talking about" out of the way, yet as a forestry major and one who is well-read on conservation, wildlife and natural resources, I would tend to agree with the rest of the respondents - I don't have a problem or see an unethical issue with raising pheasants for sporting purposes via your three methods for sport. Certainly the surrogator would be the way to go if it is within your means, etc...

What I would have a problem with is the upland bird form of a "canned" hunt where birds - of any upland variety - are not released but "placed" in predetermined locations by property managers who will later lead guest hunters to their location to be "flushed" either by force or when terrified enough to break any restraints they may be wearing. I've heard/read of birds having their legs tied together to make sure they stay put. I can't vouch for the truth to that, but just the thought pisses me off. THAT would be unethical, and in my humble opinion you are miles from this extreme and are on the right track just for reaching out to this remarkable brain/opinion trust to be sure you are doing the right thing.
 
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The state run put and take pheasant hunts in Illinois net between 1/3- 2/3 harvest of they birds they put out. The idea that its somewhat a canned hunt is always there but they are down right very hard work walking the thick stuff without dogs. Its a non native species to begin with so that changes it somewhat. I would say I have much more issue with the way its run rather than strictly the idea of it not being as wild.
 

cedahm

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I use a local 'hunt' club/sporting clays outfit when my dogs are young. Unless you live close to, or have private access to, a crapload of wild birds, pen-raised birds are invaluable to keep your dog 'in shape' and especially crucial in the formative years just to make sure they're into birds. If I lived in the Dakotas, I'd probably not bother, but here in CO, it's not at all uncommon to drive 500 miles in a day, burn 10-15 miles of boot leather and find 1 or 2 roosters.

I'd do it in the backyard if my neighborhood didn't specifically prohibit poultry :)

Beyond that - when thinking about 'supplementing' wild populations - it's kind of a sticky wicket. The best program I have any personal experience with was what Wisconsin did when I was in college there. Much of the state is marginal pheasant habitat (especially near the I-90 corridor where the majority of the population is). Back then (early-mid 1990's), WI DNR had a release program on certain state lands (mainly near Madison) where you were allotted tags (I think it was 10 tags/season), and they would release birds at unpublished intervals on these lands, purely for opportunity.

They used some portion (probably not a ton after covering costs, but some is better than none) of the money from the tags to put into habitat and access programs in the areas of the state (mainly the areas near the Iowa border) that could support healthy wild bird populations.

I don't know if they still do this, but it was a good idea. I wish Colorado (which has a similar issue - not a lot of habitat that can support huge populations, but a deep hunting culture and people that want to go) would look into something similar.

Now that my dogs are basically retired (14 and 11 yo) - I also hunt the Wyoming GFD released bird hunts (Springer and Glendo) just to get them out on some relatively easy country and, let's be honest, mostly easy birds. Costs 1/2 of what it would to drive over to the club and buy 6 birds. This year we killed a couple of wild birds @ Springer as well.

I wouldn't advocate for full blown population 'enhancement', but pen-raised birds have a place, IMO.
 

Festus

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Better check local regulations. I know here in VA you need a permit to release pheasants. Years ago in PA a friend had a dog training permit that allowed the release of pheasants, quail, pigeons and chukar to be used for training. He was issued leg bands for the pheasants and had to band each bird before release and was required to keep pretty detailed records as well. I believe he only had to band the pheasants since they were a Pennsylvania game bird with local populations.(?)

If I recall, the birds flew pretty well, but most of the local population was released by PA Game & Fish anyway, so that's just how pheasants flew (or ran) to us.

Also, as said above, the hawk and owl population really boomed in his area...
 

putm2sleep

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NO not unethical gotta do what ya gotta do.
>get with your local / state Pheasants Forever chapter and ask those guys, why the hell not.
How did hogs get to be a pest in TX, and now everywhere else????..... pheasants aren't as hardy as 'wild pigs' though?
Cant bait pheasants in with a feeder like one does deer etc.
 

JWP58

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I have personally watched pen raised pheasants run like track stars, might not be a wily as wild birds, but they sure can run pretty good. Ive also seen them hold tight without dogs on the ground.

I don't care too much about the ethical issues; however I would much rather see F&G departments spend the money from pen operations spent on habitat and wild bird transplants instead.
 

twsnow18

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I'm with you cedahm.

I'll give you my experience, or lack of with farm birds. Me and 6 buddies each pitched in $50 to buy some farm pheasants this year. We planted 30 pheasants 48 hours before the hunt, spread out over a 400 acre farm here in Idaho. The property was rolling hills, deep ditches, knee high grass, 100 acres of short corn stubble and lots of dirt.

We ended up killing 19 birds, 5 were wild. We hunted the property back and forth with 3 dogs for a full day. Before our buddy's family bought the property, the entire thing had been bare dirt for the last 5 years. So there wasn't much of a population of any kind of wildlife on the property. It was certainly considered hunting IMO, as only 1-2 of the birds acted like farm birds and were hard to get to fly. We did not shoot those.

So we killed 14/30 of the farm birds we bought. I don't think the survival rate is very good at all, but we're crossing our fingers that 2-3 or more of them will make it through the winter so that we can continue to build a population on his farm. I think the key was that we released them a few days prior and these birds that we bought were raised via method #3 in your original post.

I'll report back next season, that will be a better indicator.
 

Ttannahill14

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I'd take 14/30 harvest rate any day of the week.

I wonder what it would be if they were surragated birds. Considerably less I would imagine.
 

1_pointer

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Would the guys who've responded have a different answer if the bird were a native species? Just curious.
 
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Would the guys who've responded have a different answer if the bird were a native species? Just curious.

People do it to a lesser extent with bobwhite quail.

I think what people associate with hunting norms and ethics is directly a result of local historic use. Pheasant especially, but upland game birds have long had game farming and release associated with them so I don't think most people think twice about it.
 

kansasdad

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Ttannahill14, just a reminder, Kansas allows for expanded "hunting" seasons at commercial game farms. They are licensed by the state to raise/release for profit game birds. Controlled shooting area licensing is required for these operators. If you buy and release for personal use (or your friends) I think you are OK without such licenses if you are hunting during the regular seasons.


Check with your area wildlife officer to double check......Newton and Moundridge is a short drive, but I'm pretty busy so coming to bail you out would cramp my schedule.:D
 
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