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Attica Inmates Participate in Raising Pheasant Chicks

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Hunting season for pheasants in New York isn't until October. But the work begins now to make sure there's an ample supply of game available when the time comes.

When the program was first conceived in the early 1900s, pheasant eggs and baby chicks were distributed to farmers and rural youngsters. Today, the DEC program makes chicks available to anyone who wants to raise them for later release.

There are plenty of people who are interested in raising the baby chicks --people you'd expect -- farmers and hunters, 4H Club kids and wildlife lovers. But for the last two years, the program has gotten a lot of help from Attica prisoners.

Inmates at the correctional facility raise a couple thousand of the chicks each year -- in captivity -- just to see them later let go. James Snider, wildlife biologist for the DEC, hardened criminals or not, they're giving these baby birds lots of TLC.

"Basically you're taking a day old chick which was hatched basically the day before out of an incubator, brought in and certainly those first two or three weeks some of the critical things are keeping them warm, because they don't have mother to take care of them," said Snider. "So, they have like brooder houses with with heating lamps. You know, it's a continuation food and water all the way up until finally they grow their adult flight feathers and can fly, then have to be captured and released."

Applications for either the day old chick or young pheasant release program are available until March 15th for anyone who would like to participate.