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Upland Game Bird Release Program

Ring-necked Pheasant Releases

Ring-Necked Pheasant photo.Pheasants survey their new habitat before
taking flight.

In 2001, Montana's Legislature revamped the state's Upland Game Bird Release Program. The program can reimburse landowners for raising and releasing pheasants in suitable habitats.

The intent of the program is to establish new pheasant populations for public hunting.

Projects on private land submitted in partnership with youth organizations, 4-H clubs, sports groups, or other associations that can guarantee the completion of all project requirements are also eligible.

Need help determining if your land or project is a good fit?

Projects eligible for funding under the Upland Game Bird Release Program must comprise at least 160 contiguous acres of land and contain a combination of winter cover, food, nesting cover, and other upland game bird habitat components needed to establish viable upland game bird populations.

To determine if your land or project is a good fit, your FWP wildlife biologists will:

  • Assess your upland game bird release site.
  • Help you prepare management plans.
  • Lend a hand in your efforts to establish suitable nesting cover, winter cover, or feeding areas through cost-sharing leases or conservation easements.
  • Determine the number of pheasants that can be supported on the project area.

Reimbursement requirements for releasing pheasants:

  • Birds must be at least 10 weeks old at time of release.
  • Birds must be fully feathered and beginning to resemble adult birds in size and markings.
  • At least 40 percent of the released birds must be roosters.
  • Bird banding may be required to determine release effectiveness.
  • FWP must be on hand at time of release to verify and sign reimbursement forms.
  • Reimbursements will be based on the average market cost of birds raised by certified hatcheries or game bird growers in Montana.
  • Releases are limited to five consecutive years.
  • Releases occur annually between August 1 and September 15.

Hunting preserves, lands that host a commercial hunting enterprise, and lands where hunting rights are leased or paid for are not eligible. To help determine the success of this program Fergus, Richland and Roosevelt counties are not eligible. These counties will serve as "control" counties where wildlife biologists will monitor pheasant populations and compare them to counties where pheasants have been released.

Pheasant Release Application

The application deadline has passed. Successful applicants will receive their contracts by mail during the month of March. Thank you for your interest in the Upland Game Bird Release Program

Applications are being accepted for the 2015 pheasant releases funded through the Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program. Applications must be received no later than Thursday, January 15, 2015. Releases will take place from August 1, 2015 through September 15, 2015.

Thank you for your interest in the Upland Game Bird Release Program!

Wild Turkey Releases

In 2001, Montana's Legislature revised and added a new component to the state's Upland Game Bird Release Program. The new program funds releases of wild, free-ranging birds trapped in Montana or wild turkeys brought into the state by FWP.

Want to establish wild turkeys in your area?

Each new release proposal must first undergo an environmental assessment and be approved by the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission.

To determine if your proposal is a good fit, and if suitable wild turkey habitat exists, your FWP wildlife biologists will:

  • Determine if the habitat-in both quality and area-is suitable for wild turkeys.
  • Determine the history of previous wild turkey releases, if any.
  • Determine if supplementing an existing wild turkey population is desirable.
  • Help applicants develop agreements with adjacent landowners and obtain consent for free public hunting.

Hunting preserves, lands that host a commercial hunting enterprise, and lands where hunting rights are leased or paid for are not eligible.