By angelamontana

Posted: December 1, 2022

HELENA – Applications are being accepted for the 2023 pheasant release program through Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program (UGBEP). Guided by statute, pen-raised birds are released in areas suitable for ring-necked pheasants with the intent to enhance wild pheasant populations. Landowners interested in releasing pen-reared pheasants have until Jan. 15 to submit an application.

Projects must comprise at least 100 contiguous acres of land and contain a combination of suitable habitat components – including cover and food – that pheasants need to survive.  Suitable habitat includes a combination of small grains, idle grasses and forbs such as lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and effective winter cover, including shrubby or riparian habitats adjacent to food sources.

Eligible UGBEP pheasant releases take place on agricultural lands east of the Continental Divide but are ineligible to be released in Fergus, Richland or Roosevelt counties because of Administrative Rule. Lands enrolled in the UGBEP pheasant release program must allow free public access to hunt upland game birds during the season the releases take place.

Application for releases must be received at FWP’s headquarters in Helena no later than Sunday, Jan. 15. Applicants will be notified in late March of their enrollment status and the number of pheasants pre-authorized for release. Applicants are responsible for obtaining pheasants for release either by raising birds on their own or by purchasing from National Poultry Improvement Program certified stock. Approved applicants will be reimbursed at a rate established in March. Pheasants eligible for release through UGBEP will take place between Aug. 1 and Sept. 15.

Hunting preserves, lands that host a commercial hunting enterprise and lands where hunting rights are leased or paid for are not eligible.

For more information and to download an application form, visit UGBEP’s web page at https://fwp.mt.gov/ugbep and click on PHEASANT AND TURKEY RELEASES. You may also contact Debbie Hohler, UGBEP coordinator, at 406-444-5674 or dhohler@mt.gov.

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