How this Asian bird became a common sight around the world

August 27, 2014, 1 p.m.

Gaining ground by being hunted

The common pheasant is a favorite among hunters and has been for thousands of years. But unlike most species that humans love to kill and eat, rather than going extinct, this bird has become one of the world’s most widespread. Originally native to Asia, the common pheasant has been able to spread around the world as hunters have introduced it to new areas. The species become naturalized in Great Britain as far back as the 10th century AD when it arrived via the Romans, and can be found in many other places across Europe as well as Hawaii, New Zealand, and Tasmania among other countries. It was introduced to the U.S. in 1881 where it maintains its status as a favorite game bird among hunters, and has naturalized itself throughout the Rocky Mountain states, the Midwest, the Great Plains and can be found from Canada down to Mexico. As many as a million birds each year are bagged by thousands of hunters. And it is so loved in the states that South Dakota named it the state bird, despite the fact that it isa non-native species. It is one of the rare species where being perfect for hunting has helped the species gain a toehold across the world, rather than be wiped out.

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