REGINA -- One-thousand baby pheasants were flown to Regina to take part in the Regina Wildlife Federation’s third pheasant raise and release program.

A group of volunteers will raise the birds and release them into rural areas to help replenish the population.

“We’re a lot of hunters and fisherman, but to do that if you keep taking away you got to give back and this is a program that hopefully successfully does that,” Derek Cattell, co-chair of the pheasant program, said.

The birds arrived on cargo planes at 4 a.m. Friday from a pheasantry near Toronto, Ont.

The pheasants are only a few days old and need to be kept at more than 90 degrees and fed medicated feed and water.

“We decrease the temperature every few days just to get them to an outside temperature so that when they come out of the bruder house they’re set up for the temperature outside,” said Cattell.

He said once they are able to go outside, the birds get equipped with blinders to protect their eyes from being pecked at while in the enclosed space.

The pheasants will be raised until they are about 15 to 18 weeks old.

“We like that to be somewhat in the adult stage and coloured out so we are able to identify the males,” Mert Malkoske, board member with the pheasant program, said.

Once they have matured, the pheasants will be released to live, breed and grow the population in southern Saskatchewan.

“And that’s what’s been happening. Last spring we saw a tremendous growth in the population, and some from our hens we had released,” Malkoske said.

“We spread them all out in southern Saskatchewan where the so-called introduced birds are” said Cattell. “Obviously we want to release where there’s other pheasants and we do about five release sites each year.”

This batch of birds will be released south of Weyburn on Aug. 28 and 29.