Monday, November 22, 2010

Rockport Pheasant Farm

Pheasant Male1
Pheasant in Hopatcong by HVargas, on Flickr

The state-owned Rockport Pheasant Farm in Mansfield has raised pheasants since 1923. Now the facility has been improved and expanded.

The $1.3 million project was financed by sportsmen's fees and stamps. The complex replaces an outdated facility that was long overdue for an overhaul. It is expected that they will release 55,000 of the birds annually.

The pheasant farm includes a new brooder house, egg incubators and hatching room. The upgrades create a modern operation that includes automatic egg turning in forced-air circulating incubators, and automated feeding.

State Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Chanda said the upgrades will ensure reliable annual production of superior pheasants for the same or lower cost than if birds were purchased from suppliers.

The farm is a 492-acre facility located within the 1,200 acre Rockport Wildlife Management Area. The pheasants are stocked in 25 Wildlife Management Areas statewide.

Based on the 2007-08 state Firearm Hunter Harvest Survey, nearly 12,000 hunters spent more than $4,300,000 (excluding license and permit fees but including income to local businesses, such as gas stations, diners and restaurants, convenience stores, sporting goods stores and taxidermists. The pheasants are called "Rockport Rockets" because these state-raised pheasants have a reputation for being extremely fast in flight.

The Rockport Pheasant Farm is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to dusk. It is located on Rockport Rd. (Rt. 629) roughly 3.5 miles south of Main St. (Rt. 46), Hackettstown, in scenic Warren County. At Rockport there are pens holding exotic pheasants, turkeys and other birds.

The historic Morris Canal, its towpath intact, passes through the farm. The canal basin (explaining the "port" in Rockport’s name), where boats would dock for the night, was recently drained as a precaution against the introduction of avian flu but remains visible. Picnicking is allowed but there are no food or toilet facilities available. For more information call 908-852-3461.

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