Fruits of the hunt! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In 2016, the Division of Fish and Wildlife's Bureau of Land Management will begin stocking pheasants on state Wildlife Management Areas according to the newPheasant Allocation Formula (PAF), developed by staff with input from constituent stakeholders.
The development of the PAF began in early 2015 when the Division conducted a survey of Pheasant & Quail Stamp buyers to gauge participant satisfaction in the stocking program.
The results of the survey moved the Division to work on the PAF in an effort to attain the goal of maximizing hunter safety and hunter satisfaction. In summer 2016, three regional meetings were held for Pheasant & Quail Stamp buyers and the Draft PAF was presented. Division staff then modified the draft formula based on comments received at the stakeholder's meetings and presented the final model to the Fish & Game Council in September 2016 where it passed by a unanimous vote.
PAF Development Timeline (pdf, 140kb)
How Does the Pheasant Allocation Formula (PAF) Work?
The PAF uses two primary parameters (stocked acreage & proximity to stamp buyers) for each stocked area to calculate the percentage of pheasants (from the total available for that year) that will be allocated to each Wildlife Management Area (and the Delaware Water Gap NRA). Because "stocked area" and "proximity to stamp buyers" are measurable parameters, the PAF is an objective approach to allocating birds.
PAF Mathematical Formula (pdf, 275kb)
Why Use "Stocked Acreage" In the Pheasant Allocation Formula?
By using the acreage of the stocked fields on each stocked Wildlife Management Area (WMA) as the primary factor that determines the number of pheasants allocated to each WMA, the PAF ultimately spreads out the birds in a more equitable fashion throughout the state. We anticipate that a more even allocation of birds leads to a more even spreading of the hunters, which helps us to achieve the shared goal of increasing hunter safety and hunter satisfaction on our stocked Wildlife Management Areas.
As can be seen from the graph below, there is a wide range of acreages that are stocked with pheasant on our different Wildlife Management Areas (including the Delaware Water Gap). The PAF allocates birds proportionally to the total acres stocked on each of the stocked properties. By viewing our Pheasant Stocking Mapshunters can identify the fields stocked as part of the Division's pheasant stocking program.
Why Incorporate "Proximity to Stamp Buyers" Into the Pheasant Allocation Formula?
Simply put, we want the hunters that are contributing to the Pheasant Stocking Program (by purchasing a Pheasant & Quail Stamp) to have easy access to the pheasants that we stock. Therefore, we have weighted the percentage of birds that each Wildlife Management Area (and the Delaware Water Gap) receives by the percentage of Pheasant & Quail Stamp Buyers that live within 40-miles of that area. As the percentage of stamp buyers living within a 40 mile-radius of a particular WMA increases, the overall percentage of birds allocated to that WMA also increases.
We believe this approach puts the birds near the stamp-buying hunters. A radius of 40 miles was selected for this calculation because 74% of the respondents in our 2015 Pheasant & Quail Stamp Buyer survey said they would drive up to, or over, 40 miles for a quality pheasant hunting experience in New Jersey.
What Changes Should Hunters Expect for 2016?
There are numerous changes that are occurring for 2016 as summarized below:
1. Pheasant are being allocated according to the Division of Fish & Wildlife's Pheasant Allocation Formula. This formula has produced significant changes in pheasant numbers on some stocked areas, with some WMAs receiving an increase in pheasant numbers and others a decrease. In 2016, half of the overall change from Pheasant Allocation Formula will be incorporated into the pheasant allocation. The other half of the change will occur for the 2017 stocking season. Change in the percentage of total available birds going to each WMA (and the Delaware Water Gap) can be seen on the graph below.
2. All Wildlife Management Areas will receive a minimum of 600 pheasants.
3. All Wildlife Management Areas (and the Delaware Water Gap) will be stocked during each of the 15 stocking days. In the past, the following areas were only stocked 10 of the 15 stocking days: Delaware Water Gap NRA, Greenwood WMA, Manahawkin WMA, Manasquan WMA, Medford WMA, Stafford Forge WMA, Heislerville WMA, Madhorse WMA, and Winslow WMA.
4. On each stocking day, each individual Wildlife Management Area will be stocked with the same percentage of the total birds allocated to that WMA. For example, on opening day, each WMA will be stocked with 13% of the WMA's season total of pheasants. In years past, these percentages were not consistent among WMAs or regions. While this change is not related to the PAF, it does establish a consistent stocking effort for all stocked areas throughout the season.
5. The total number of pheasants that have been calculated into the stocking calendar is 50,030. This is down from a total of 55,000 in 2017. If theRockport Pheasant Farm produces excess birds in 2016, the majority of those birds will be stocked on WMAs according the percentages calculated by the PAF.
How Is the Division Assisting Hunters With This Change?
1. Public Outreach - During the development of the Pheasant Allocation Formula, and now during its implementation, the Division has gone to great efforts to notify stamp buyers about the PAF and include them as part of the process. Through surveys, public meetings, email notifications and direct mailings (e.g. postcards), the Division has included stamp buyers in the process leading up to this new approach to pheasant allocation.
2. Phasing in the Change - The Fish and Game Council requested that the Division phase in this change over the course of 2 years to assist sportsmen in adapting to the new pheasant allocation numbers. Therefore, in 2016, only 50% of the change will take place. The second 50% of the change will take place in 2017.
3. Pheasant Stocked Area Maps - We hope that hunters will "follow the birds" as allocation numbers change within the stocked Wildlife Management Areas (and the Delaware Water Gap). As some areas receive more birds we hope hunters will begin to hunt those areas. In effect, this will reduce overall hunter densities and increase hunter safety and satisfaction. Our Pheasant Stocking Maps allow hunters to identify the areas stocked on each WMA and will hopefully facilitate hunters in following the birds and hunting new areas.