ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The state Department of Environmental Conservation is taking applications for its pheasant-rearing program.

Last year, the agency distributed 41,500 day-old pheasant chicks to qualified applicants.

Day-old chicks are available at no cost to participants who are able to provide a brooding facility, a covered outdoor rearing pen, and an adequate release site. The chicks are distributed in April, May and June. Daily care is needed until they're at least eight weeks old, when they can be released.

The birds must be released on land that's open to public hunting.

The program is funded through the state Conservation Fund from license fees paid by hunters, trappers and anglers.

Applications must be filed with a DEC regional wildlife manager by March 15. Information is available on the DEC website.