Michigan plan to plant pheasants sprouts wings

Attica, Mich. — A grassroots effort to persuade the DNR to consider stocking pheasants on some public land in Michigan took flight on Jan. 8. A crowd of over 100 gathered at the Castle Rock Golf Club in Attica to hear a proposal from local hunter Ken Dalton, who researched the possibility of planting pheasants on public land in Michigan.

Dalton said he’s not trying to supplement the state’s limited wild pheasant population. Rather, he’s asking that officials consider the possibility of stocking a limited number of ringnecks on select public lands, with an annual goal of hunters shooting all of the birds, similar to the way fisheries biologists stock trout in streams that have limited winter carry over.

He said several other states, including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, even South Dakota plant pen-reared pheasants on an annual basis and feels Michigan could copy one of those programs to provide bird-hunting opportunities here in Michigan.

“We’re overdue. Nobody pheasant hunts in Michigan anymore,” Dalton said.

Dalton added that he doesn’t want this effort to interfere with the ongoing Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative, a 10-year program aimed at creating pheasant habitat on a landscape basis.

Tom Heritier, president of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, said his organization didn’t yet have an official position on Dalton’s proposal, but said he likes what he has heard.

“I’d like to commend Ken (Dalton) for getting this program off the ground,” Heritier said.  “Oct. 20 (opening day of pheasant season) used to be just as big a day as Nov.15 is now. We need to bring that back and make Oct. 20 an exciting day again.

“The experience of having a bird flush in front of you, the flurry of wings, the cackle, it’s great excitement. I’d like to let kids experience that thrill, but without a program like this it won’t happen.”

Heritier feels the proposal aligns with goals of the state’s largest conservation organization.

“MUCC is committed to hunter recruitment, hunter education, hunter safety and providing opportunity. What Ken is (suggesting) would provide fantastic opportunity,” he said.

Several politicians attended the meeting to voice their support for the proposal including state senators Mike Green and Phil Pavlov, state representatives Dan Lauwers and Gary Howell, and Macomb County Commissioner Don Brown.

“This is an excellent opportunity to make a difference for Michigan pheasant hunters,” Howell said. “I don’t want to have to go to Iowa anymore. I want to do everything I can to move this forward.”

Lauwers, the House majority floor leader for the next two years, also supports the proposal. “I’d love to see this happen. We have a real opportunity here,” he said.

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