Search For Excellence in 4-H Programming

Adriane Good
Agricultural Extension Agent


Good, A.*1,
1 Agricultural Extension Agent, , Conrad, MT, 59425

In recent years, populations of ring-necked pheasants in north central Montana have been declining. While ring-necked pheasants are not a native species, they do contribute to biodiversity and benefit the local economy through game bird hunting. I created the pheasant 4-H project to help solve the problem of declining pheasant populations. The primary objective of the pheasant 4-H project was for 4-H members to increase their understanding of game bird life cycles and habitat requirements. Other objectives were to bolster wild ring-necked pheasant populations by releasing captive-raised birds and to encourage 4-H members to work with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The project started in 2019 and since then, eight 4-H members have released 389 captive-reared pheasants at twelve locations in the county. While raising the pheasants, 4-H members improved in their care and handling of the birds and grew in their teamwork abilities. They also learned more about the pheasant life cycle and the importance of cover through predation on their captive-reared birds. In a survey at the end of the project year, all 4-H families agreed that this project has helped them better understand and appreciate wild game bird populations in north central Montana. Four of the five families agreed they were encouraged to work with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The landowners who have purchased birds have noted improved pheasant populations on their land. One landowner noted that they saw pheasant chicks for the first time in years in the spring following release, suggesting that pheasant populations are recovering. The increase in knowledge in 4-H members and improved pheasant populations indicate the pheasant 4-H project is meeting its objectives.