Release Of Partridges Into The Wild
Partridge re-introduction can be performed in a few ways. There has been no clear-cut evidence indicating the superiority of any method so far and the success of re-introduction depends not only on the way of setting the birds free, but also on the site preparation, crop structure, predation scale etc.
The general division of methods results from the fact whether the birds are directed straight to the hunting ground after farmstead breeding, or are still kept in acclimation or quarantine aviaries. If it is the former, after the spring hatch (it may be an artificial hatch in hatchers or a natural hatch by partridges or hen caps), birds are bred on farms until the second half of summer, i.e. until August and the beginning of September.
The aforementioned breeding is not an objective mimesis of nature. The birds are kept in a large density, fed and watered by men with specially prepared food and their contact with natural environment is restricted because of e.g. sanitary reasons. At the end of summer and in the beginning of fall, partridges are entrapped and transported to the place where they are released.
Undoubtedly, the most dangerous manipulative activity is the entrapment. It is highly advised to perform it in the evening or at night, and keep the birds in huge transportation cages in a cold place which is far away from the source of additional stress. Transportation to the hunting ground should take place the same night, and the release early in the morning.
The release should preclude the birds from flying and panicking. The best way to release the birds is to open the transportation cage in thick vegetation of a mid-field refuge near a box or other shelter with which they were in contact during entrapment. The food laid on the feeding rack should be the same as the one they have been fed hitherto.
However, it is essential to mention that the release of partridges should definitely not be an opportunity to loud celebration, public show for big audience or school trips! We must remember that we deal with living animals, which are under a lot of stress because of all the hardships (entrapment, transportation) they are going through so the ethical responsibility of a re-introduction manager is to provide all the necessary release conditions that would eliminate their stress.
The technique of releasing birds from farmstead breeding described above should be also applied to the remaining re-introduction methods. They focus on keeping the birds temporarily in quarantine or adaptation aviaries. The aim of the first of already mentioned aviaries is, as the name says, quarantine of birds transported to the hunting grounds.
As it has been already said, for this short period of time, partridges are exposed to extreme activities which might result even in their death. To determine the state of birds in which they are sent to the recipient, it is a good idea to keep them for 24 or 48 hours in small aviaries which would provide peace and shelter in places of direct settlement/introduction.
If partridges are going to be kept in large acclimation aviaries in prospect of their spring settlement/introduction, one should assign a small area to them the day they arrive to observe their behavior and condition after the transportation. The area of quarantine aviary has not been unambiguously defined yet. It depends on the number of settled/introduced birds, field conditions, supervision possibilities etc.
After the fixed period of time, the aviary needs to be opened not startling the birds and enabling them to come outside. It has to take place early in the morning. After having opened the aviary, the settlement/ introduction site must be abandoned; and dismantling and transportation of the quarantine aviary must be performed the next day which gives the opportunity to search the site for dead birds.
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