Oneida County, NY (WIBX) - The Department of Environmental Conservation is now accepting applications for its Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program and reminding of changes to its Young Pheasant Release Program. Officials with the agency say March 15, 2011 is the deadline to apply to receive, at no charge, day-old pheasant chicks to those able to provide the animals, "a brooding facility, a covered outdoor rearing pen, and an adequate release site."

The report says those eligible will receive the day-old chicks in April, May or June. Also, officials with the DEC say pheasant hunters, 4-H youth members and landowners interesting in the rear and release pheasant program should fill out an application with their local agency regional wildlife manager by the deadline.

According to the report, the DEC will no longer participate in the Young Pheasant Release Program to comply with the new 10 year Pheasant Management Plan adopted by the agency in 2010. The Young Pheasant Release Program provided participants with 7 - 10 week old pheasants to be, "released in temporary holding pens for two weeks while the birds acclimated to the surrounding habitat." Officials are encouraging those who participated in the discontinued Pheasant Release Program to apply for the Day-Old Chick Program.

DEC officials say the Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program started in the early 1900's to enhance pheasant hunting opportunities for farmers and rural youths. The report states that in 2010, the agency provided 51,267 day-old pheasants to qualified 4-H and sportsmen applicants.

Oneida and Herkimer County residents interested in the program can contact their DEC regional office at, (315) 785-2261. The regional office is located at, 317 Washington Street, Watertown, NY 13601