The ecology and management of wild and hand-reared pheasants in Ireland.
The Pheasant is the most prominent Irish gamebird. The release of hand-reared Pheasants is the most common management technique used in attempts to increase sporting bags and breeding populations. This study revealed that birds reared under typical conditions suffered extremely high mortality soon after release, made a relatively small contribution to the total game bag and displayed reduced breeding success compared to wild Pheasants. This technique, as currently practised, does not appear to be an efficient method of increasing game bags, either in the short or in the long term. Ireland appears to have a low breeding density of Pheasants compared to Europe and North America even though wild birds comprise over 90% of the annual Pheasant bag. It is suggested that the money spent on hand-rearing would provide a better return if devoted to improving the densities of wild birds.