Inmate Pheasant Brooding Program Hatched At Jail

Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard announces the first phase of the Inmate Brooding Program has taken flight and the second flock of pheasants was delivered to the Erie County Correctional Facility on Tuesday, June 14. The Erie County Sheriff Office’s latest inmate rehabilitation and vocational program was hatched during the winter months and discussions with the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) were conducted to implement a pheasant brooding program at the Erie County Correctional Facility for this spring. On May 5 the sheriff’s office accepted its first delivery of 500 day-old chicks and, just last week, the birds were transferred from the brooding house to the flight pen. These 7-week old birds will spend the following months segregated from the chicks until the pheasants are ready for release into the wild. Sheriff Timothy Howard explains, “Being a hunter, a conservationist, and someone who appreciates our wonderful wildlife, I was thrilled when the DEC and COC approved our plans for a pheasant brooding program because I have noticed the drastic decrease in the wild pheasants when I am in the fields. I am very proud that my office and the inmates are part of restoring a healthy pheasant population in Erie County.” The DEC provided 1,000 day-old pheasant chicks and caretaker guidelines for the program. Select inmates from the Service Action Corps will be responsible for all aspects of care of the pheasants from the day of delivery to the date of release. Inmate participants will receive a certificate upon their release which will acknowledge their service to the program and assist them with their re-entry into the community and future employment opportunities. Sheriff Howard continued, “We are not just winging it with this program, everybody involved immersed themselves into it, learning as much as they could, and my staff contacted other public and private organizations to learn their best practices to ensure a successful program.” Using revenue from the Inmate Commissary Fund, the county built a brooding house and two large, covered flight pens within the secure perimeter of the correctional facility. The brooding process is approximately 22-weeks long and the chicks will receive supervised care designed specifically for pheasants. Once the pheasants are mature enough to fly and survive in the wild, the DEC will coordinate the timing and location of the pheasants’ release estimated for early October. The Pheasant Brooding Program adds to the sheriff’s growing list of innovative inmate rehabilitative and vocational programs that include the Inmate Horticultural Program, Christmas wreath making, urban gardening, and the community-minded Service Action Corps.

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