4-H Raise and Release

In the "olden days," Alberta was revered for its pheasant hunting opportunities, even bringing in celebrities like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope to show off their shooting skills. Many Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers fondly remember the birds across the landscape. And then they all but disappeared. Year over year farms have gotten bigger, while remnant patches of grass, wetlands, and shrub-lined edges have slowly disappeared. Those once scruffy edges that provide insects and shelter for growing chicks are lost every time two fields are made into one.  

Pheasants are adaptable, and with some attention to field-edge areas they can thrive once again. Luckily, we have a workforce that is more than willing and able. Youth from 4-H clubs, Boy Scout groups, and schools, as well as Fish & Game clubs and individual landowners are keen to participate in the raise and release program. Participants receive day-old pheasant chicks and raise them to the age of 14 weeks. At 14 weeks, the pheasants are released. In the southern part of the province, the female pheasants are released into suitable habitat with the hope that some will live out the year to raise chicks of their own. In the north, where potential for survival is more remote, participants primarily raise roosters, which create recreational hunting opportunities.

ACA biologists provide guidance on husbandry, and the habitat resources that pheasants need to make it in the real world. Participants also gain insight on approaches to balance the needs of pheasants with modern farming practices. They learn about wildlife, habitat, and the business of agriculture. Habitat is the key to future pheasant populations in Alberta, and this project provides insight and opportunity for grassroot involvement out the back door.  

The number of pheasants has grown as the project gains in popularity, starting in 2014 with 1,525 pheasants to 17,940 pheasant chicks successfully raised and released into quality habitat in 2017.   

  • Project Cost: $158,247

Partners:  

  • 4-H Alberta
  • Calgary Fish & Game Association
  • Dennis and Cheryl Meyer
  • Lethbridge Fish & Game Association
  • Southern Alberta Bow Hunters Association
  • Wheatland Conservation & Wildlife Association