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Pheasant Release Marks 150 Years of Fish & Game Work

Media release from Northland Fish & Game

Pheasant Release Marks 150 Years of Fish & Game Work

One hundred and fifty years of work to introduce and manage fish and game in New Zealand is being marked in a special way this weekend.

Northland Fish and Game is releasing 150 pheasants – sought after game birds – in the Aupouri Forest which is crown land managed by Juken New Zealand Limited.

The exotic forest has been open to hunters for the game bird hunting season for more than 40 years.

Northland Fish & Game Regional Manager Rudi Hoetjes says the company proposed that hunters pay a small levy on their permit to hunt in the forest, to help fund Fish & Game’s predator control operations.

“Juken New Zealand generously provided $2,000 towards the cost of pheasants to release into the forest once the season closed at the end of last month – to help boost pheasant breeding and numbers.”

In addition, Juken New Zealand has provided extra funds towards the purchase of maize for feeding the birds straight after their release, Rudi says.

“We are grateful for their contributions to the project which should lift the prospects for game bird hunters to harvest more birds from the forest.”

Juken NZ has been very keen to work alongside our staff with a view to long term hunting access to the forest, and improving it as a hunting venue. Rudi says, the 150 pheasants are being transported from Lakelands Upland Game property in the Waikato, and will be taken by trailer to Northland on Saturday September 10.

“Their release is a very fitting way to celebrate 150 years of work by acclimatisation societies which were set from 1861 to look at introducing new species as long as they weren’t ‘noxious.’”

By the 1890’s, acclimatisation societies had become focused on species for hunting and fishing such as deer, game birds, trout and salmon. In the 1990’s, the societies changed to the Fish & Game Councils around the country we are familiar with today, says Rudi.

*Pheasant Background (Source:*

The first English pheasants arrived in Wellington in 1842 and further liberations resulted in the bird being abundant in both islands by 1870. The pheasant population then plunged into a remarkable decline, from which it has never recovered, due to eating poisoned grain used for rabbit eradication followed by the release of stoats and weasels to quell the rabbit plague.

However, there are still enough pheasants for hunting, assisted in some regions by annual releases of hand reared stock. The pheasant could almost be called a North Island species with its stronghold in the warmer climate of the far north. In the South Island pheasants are limited to the Nelson area and some coastal riverbeds and a few other isolated habitats in Canterbury.

Pheasants are found in a variety of habitats but mostly in open farmland near rough scrub, hedges or trees that provide essential escape cover. They feed on a wide range of berries, seeds and other vegetation. Cock pheasants are polygamous and mate with several hens. Nesting usually begins in September and may continue through to January. Six to 14 eggs are laid in a hollow in the ground located in thick cover.

Only cock pheasants can be hunted. The North Island season begins in May and continues throughout August. In some regions the season is a month shorter and in the South Island pheasant shooting may only be permitted for a single day.


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