More than a thousand pheasants raised and cared for by New York jail inmates have flown the coop.
One hundred ringneck pheasants have been released back into the wild. Zoar Valley is their new home.
They were the last of 1,200 pheasants raised by inmates at the Erie County Correctional Facility, where they arrived as day-old chicks this past spring.
The Jail Management Division's Pheasant Brooding program began last year as a way to increase the population of the birds and give inmates an opportunity to be responsible for all aspects of their daily care.
The brooding period is 22 weeks. The chicks are kept in coops, then protected flight pens until they are released, as coordinated with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
In 2016, the Sheriff’s Office performed two releases onto New York State-managed properties, with nearly 1,000 birds split between the locations.