The first crop of pheasant chicks are hatching at Montana State Prison’s new rearing program, as wildlife managers offer assurances that safety measures are in place given the recent outbreak of avian flu.
Last year the Montana Legislature passed House Bill 637, which among its many provisions appropriated $1 million toward a new state pheasant rearing and release program. With a mix of federal and state wildlife dollars, the program is housed at the state prison and operated by inmates.
The program’s goal is to produce up to 50,000 birds annually for release onto state wildlife management areas. Rather than for building populations, the pheasants are considered a hunter recruitment and retention tool, particularly for youth hunters.
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