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Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative
Local Efforts the Key to Pheasant Recovery in Michigan
By Monique Ferris
What is the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative (MPRI)?
The goal of the initiative is to double Michigan's current pheasant harvest. The plan will also have a tremendous impact on hunter retention and recruitment in the state. "There are more than 50,000 hunters who pursue pheasants annually in Michigan, and we can do better at meeting their demand for opportunity," says Mike Parker, Private Lands Biologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, "It's a given that when you have an abundance of quality habitat, you have pheasants. Revitalizing habitat - nesting cover, escape cover, food and winter cover - is the key to revitalizing pheasant hunting in Michigan."
What is a Landowner Cooperative?
How effective the initiative is depends on what the landowners are willing to accomplish. The most important parts of the program are the landowners who wish to participate in local landowner co-ops. By participating in the initiative, it not only helps to create habitat but it also builds unity within the community. Many co-ops already exist throughout southern Michigan!
Over the years, landowners have helped on their individual properties by being conservation-minded. However, in order for this initiative to succeed, landowners living near one another must work together by adding and enhancing habitat as a whole, not as individual pieces. The goal of establishing co-ops is to see enhancements to habitat of approximately 1,200 acres within a 10,000 acre block. Habitat can be restored and enhanced to include nest cover, winter cover, and winter food, and have connectivity from property to property. Grassland and farmland are crucial to pheasant habitat. Any pheasant habitat is also beneficial for song birds, migratory birds, deer and other wildlife species.
How can I get started?
Check with your local Conservation District! Biologist Monique Ferris has been hired to help landowners in Gratiot, Saginaw, and Clinton counties coordinate and form pheasant co-ops. Monique can help find existing acreage, show where potential acreage might be available, identify areas where farmland needs to be maintained & enhanced using conservation farming, and to help with the finding of new members and hosting informational meetings. Monique is also available to help look into any Farm Bill or partner programs which can help in habitat establishment or enhancement of conservation farming.
For information go to www.michigan.gov/pheasant; or contact your local biologist at the Gratiot Conservation District, Monique Ferris, 989-875-3900 ext. 101.
The initiative is also supported by Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Ducks Unlimited, Conservation Districts, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Agriculture, Michigan State University Extension, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
Monique Ferris is the Biologist at the Gratiot Conservation District. She can be reached at 989-875-3900 Ext. 101 or at Monique.Ferris@mi.nacdnet.net