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Students Release Pheasants on State Game Lands Near ESC

A pair of hens flies free. Donald R. Nibert’s Wildlife Management class helped the Pennsylvania Game Commission release more than 550 pheasants Tuesday onto State Game Lands 252 in Lycoming and Union counties, not far from the students’ home base at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Schneebeli Earth Science Center.

Led by Nibert and Game Commission employees, traveling muddy roadways that pass by waterfowl ponds and fields of corn and sorghum, the students took turns freeing the surplus breeder pheasants from the crates that bore them from the Loyalsock Game Farm.

Some of the birds readily “flew the coop,” while others − in a literal example of the hands-on nature of a Penn College education − needed to be manually coaxed to take flight. Class members also retrieved eggs, which one of the students will attempt to hatch.

A pheasant hen is outfitted with a radio collar to aid tracking by students.Birds were stocked at seven stops across the 3,000-acre game lands, and one was outfitted with a radio collar at the outset of the three-hour lab period.

The pheasant will be tracked via an antenna that can pick up a signal within a quarter-mile. The class chose to wire a hen instead of a cock, as the less-noticeable female theoretically would live longer than the more brightly colored male.

Predators make any life-span predictions moot, however, as osprey and hawks circled the pheasant-stocking process with all-too-apparent interest.

Nibert, an assistant professor of forestry, certainly is no stranger to making the Great Outdoors his students’ laboratory.

Past classes have navigated iced-over ponds to check duck nests and erected a Donald R. Nibert shows students how to track the collared bird via a wireless antenna.“bat condo” as an alternate roosting site for little brown bats that had taken up residence in an area church. Students last week cleaned 28.6 pounds of guano from within the house, a sevenfold increase over the previous year’s output and a good indicator of its increased usage by bats.

These students will return to the game lands Thursday to count deer in a 100- to 150-acre area, using the data collected to extrapolate a per-square-mile estimate of the deer population, and also will be improving rabbit habitat on a section of the ESC campus.

Student releases pheasant hens from atop a Pennsylvania Game Commission truck. A colorful pheasant cock takes wing Pheasants - and feathers - fly in Wildlife Management lab.

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