Upland Birds Alberta Advocating for Increased Investment in Alberta’s Pheasant Release Program

EDMONTON, Alberta (July 20, 2011) – Upland Birds Alberta (UBA) is working with NGOs, private and government partners to influence greater investment in the province’s pheasant release program.

“Pheasants and pheasant hunting have been an integral part of Alberta’s rural fabric for the last century, but if we don’t act now we’re liable to lose this tradition forever,” said Stan Grad, Director of UBA. “We want to unite the Provincial Government, conservation NGOs and the private sector in reinvesting in the pheasant release program to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy these traditions, just as we’ve been fortunate to.”

Grad went on to say, “Beyond the sporting traditions, pheasant hunting has been an important economic driver in many Alberta communities over the years, providing an important revenue source to local service providers during an otherwise slow period of the year. An expanded program would again benefit these and other communities”

Since the 1950s, wild pheasant populations have been supplemented by captive-reared birds under a provincially-funded program. As recently as the late 1980s, nearly 70,000 were released annually. This year, fewer than 14,000 pheasants will be released through the program and there is real risk that the program will disappear altogether in 2012. Pheasant hunter numbers have dropped concurrent with the decline in the release program, and so too have the associated economic benefits to local communities. At one time Alberta was considered a premier pheasant hunting destination in North America, and booking an October motel room in many towns meant making your reservation in March. UBA believes that increased investment in the release program can help Alberta return to its former glory days, and wants to see it return to the levels of the 1980s.

Understanding the economic benefits of pheasant hunting is fundamental in influencing decision makers to increase investment in the program. With little economic data currently available, UBA has commissioned an Alberta-based consulting firm to conduct an economic impact assessment of pheasant hunting in Alberta. The two- part study, to be conducted July through September, will see both service providers and hunters surveyed in order to identify the current and potential economic impacts of pheasant hunting.

The conservation NGO community in Alberta has collectively offered their support to UBA’s efforts, with organizations including the Alberta Conservation Association, Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Alberta Fish and Game Association, Pheasants Forever, the Alberta Hunter Education Instructor’s Association, Hunting For Tomorrow and the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society all pledging to provide lands on which to release pheasants, volunteer support to aid in the release efforts, and financial or other support.

UBA is also exploring options to reduce the costs of providing birds for release. “In today’s economic climate we need to make every effort to maximize efficiencies, even when it comes to raising pheasants,” said Grad. “If we can identify a more cost-effective production model we can significantly increase the number of pheasants released across Alberta. This will allow us to expand the geographic distribution of birds, meaning more hunters can participate and additional communities can benefit from the associated revenues.”

Upland Birds Alberta is a grassroots organization of concerned individuals with a passion for Alberta’s pheasant hunting traditions and an interest in putting their collective relationships and resources together to help bring about positive change in the province’s pheasant release program.

 

 

 

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