Nearly 750 pheasants donated to the state Division of Wildlife Resources by a private game farm in Cedar City were released in areas of low or non-existent pheasant populations of four counties.
The game birds were released in areas of Iron, Beaver, Duchesne and Uintah counties believed suitable habitat for pheasants, said division spokesman Garth Carter. Bill and Robert Holland, who raise day-old chick pheasants to adult birds, donated the surplus birds after marketing their pheasant crop this year, Carter said.Pheasants flourished in Utah during the 1960s, but population levels are down by 50 percent because food, water and cover for the birds have declined, he siad.
"The severe winter of 1983-84, flooding around Utah and the Great Salt Lake, fall plowing, modern efficient hay mowing equipment, the removal of fence rows, and high predation have contributed to the decline," Garth said.
Although predation is high on pen-raised birds and few of the hens released will actually raise a brood, the division's upland game coordinator, Jay Roberson, said conservation programs promise improved habitats.