HISTORY OF PHEASANTS IN ALBERTA
The ring-neck pheasant is not a native species to North America; it was introduced in 1881 when 200 ring-neck pheasants from Asia were released in Oregon. Twenty-seven years later in 1906, a group of Calgary sportsmen introduced the bird to Alberta by releasing 80 birds near Midnapore, Bragg Creek, Rosebud Creek and Strathmore. A couple more releases, followed by a program of distribution of young pheasants and eggs to farmers near Brooks, Lethbridge, Camrose and Edmonton saw a great increase in pheasant numbers.
Pheasants have an important place in Alberta for landowners, hunters, and naturalists alike. To landowners, the bright flash of a pheasant near the farmstead is a welcome respite from an otherwise dreary winter, to the bird hunter, a seasons trophy to be remembered and treasured would be the chase of a wily long tailed rooster, naturalists have welcomed the introduction of the ring -neck pheasant as these birds can adapt to intensive agriculture.
Alberta held its first open hunting season for pheasants in 1932. In 1945 a provincial government hatchery was set up in Brooks to raise and distribute birds in cereal crop regions of the province. In 1978, as both hatchery production and the town grew, the hatchery moved to its present site, ten kilometres east of Brooks. In 1999, the facility was renamed the Canadian Pheasant Company.
With over 80 acres of irrigated flight pens and a state of the art hatchery and rearing barns, the Canadian Pheasant Company can produce over 200,000 top quality pheasants a year. The Canadian Pheasant Company maintains a strict biosecurity program, as disease is always a concern, therefore access restrictions are necessary for both the public and the staff.