PLUNKETTS CREEK TOWNSHIP -- The Pennsylvania Game Commission has announced the closure of two of its four pheasant farms. One of those farms is in Lycoming County. The closures mean fewer pheasants to hunt next year in the Keystone state.
Pheasants are not native to Pennsylvania, but each year the Northcentral Game Farm in Lycoming County raises about 50 thousand of them. It's something this farm has been doing for over 70 years but, at the end of January, the pheasant farm will close for good.
Nets can come down once thousands of pheasants raised on the Northcentral Game Farm outside of Montoursville are released onto state game lands.
"Raise them from day old till we ship them."
Once the birds are gone, Craig Lewis and the other employees at the farm will prepare to close the farm for good.
"Their services will no longer be needed after January 27th," said Lewis.
Earlier this week, the PA Game Commission announced it is closing two of its four pheasant farms at the end of January because of financial concerns.
One farm is in Crawford County the other is North Central farm.
Two farms will remain open and one of them is also in Lycoming County. The Loyalsock Game Farm is a bit smaller than the one up the road in Plunkett's Creek Township.
"Every time there's a hunting license, they go for a hunting license increase and they don't get it we get threats that you know threats you know," said Lewis.
The price of a hunting license has not increased in over three decades. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is cutting costs to help counter an $8 million budget deficit. When the two pheasant farms close more than a dozen people will be furloughed including Craig.
“I'm doing alright my wife's not happy," said Lewis.
The game commission is also considering forcing those hunting the birds, to get a special pheasant hunting permit. This means small game hunters would need to buy two licenses.
"The money would be specifically for the pheasant program but out of 80 thousand, who is going to pay an extra $25 to go hunt pheasants," said Lewis.
Each year the game commission releases around 200 thousand pheasants. After the closure of two farms, the game commission still hopes to release about 170 thousand pheasants for hunting in 2017.