Reeve's Pheasant Investigations In Kentucky

Establishment was not attained during a six-year intensive investigation into the factors influencing survival of liberated pen-reared Reeve's pheasants in Kentucky. During the tenure of the study, 6,815 juvenile and 859 adult Reeve's were liberated in a varie~ of habitat composition at seven pre-selected release areas. The sex ratIo of release stock was 93 cocks per 100 hens. To enhance field identification, all liberated pheasants were marked with plastic neck tags and metal leg bands. The total recorded mortality was less than two percent of the number released. Approximately thirty percent of the known fatalities was attributed to predation. Avian and fox predation accounted for most of predatory fatalities. Ten broods averaging almost ten chicks per brood were reported. Some evidence was found to indicate a "drumming" display by adult male Reeve's may be associated with reproduction. A total of 2,308 post-release observations was recorded during 3,117 man-hours of field time expended. These observations occurred in numerous habitat types with various species compositions, but mixed stands of hardwood interspersed with mixed herbaceous plants appeared to be most generally preferred. The sex ratio of field observations was 167 cocks per 100 hens. Known movements of Reeve's did not exceed twelve miles. Scattered grain and the use of feeders at three areas appeared to retard dispersal. Food utilization studies revealed that food habits of Reeve's pheasants were similar to those of native ruffed grouse but no detrimental effects to grouse or to other native game populations were discovered. This species demonstrated an ability to cope with severe weather conditions. Excessive mortality, though not demonstrated' by th;s study, and limited reproduction were probably the most important factors affecting survival of this species in Kentucky. Future liberations of this pheasant in Kentucky is not recommended.

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