Flying ability of different pheasant strains.
Hunting ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus ) in Great Britain depends on released birds. Hunters believe that the flying ability of reared birds has declined in recent years and think it may be due to genetic changes in the game farm stocks. Thus, we evaluated 3 stocks of wild, mixed, and game farm pheasant strains that were reared under identical conditions. After release there were no differences (P > 0.05) in dispersal or return rates, but the lighter wild birds flew better (P < 0.05) than the heavier game farm birds; mixed stock were intermediate. Selective shooting of high flying birds as well as conditions within game farms where they are raised may contribute to the deterioration of flying quality. The effect of strain on flying ability was small compared with differences between wooded areas hunted. Therefore woodland management to improve the flying quality of the birds may be a more effective management technique than the release of lighter, wild strain birds.