HUNTING -- A few birds may still be hanging on at hunting sites for the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement and Release Program, and hunter "clean-up crews" are probably sweeping some of the fields today.
The final release of farm-raised rooster pheasants was made a last week just before Thanksgiving at more than 20 designated areas in the region, including Corps of Engineers habitat sites along the Snake River.
Washington Fish and Wildlife Department staff released 130 rooster pheasants near Fishtrap Lake and another 130 birds at Sherman Creek Wildlife Area last Wednesday, Nov. 23.
That will conclude the releases for this season, said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman in Spokane.
Despite the non-toxic shot requirement enacted in 2011, these release public land sites have continued to be popular since the program began in the late 1990s. It's especially popular with hunters who don’t have access to hunt private land.
The first releases of the year occurred at all sites in September before the youth upland bird season. Two additional releases were scheduled at the sites during the general pheasant season.
The number of birds released has been gradually reduced in the past five years as the agency finds fewer options for buying the birds and puts more emphasis on getting hunter access to bird habitat on private lands.