Here’s an interesting and somewhat quirky Jersey factoid you probably were not aware of: For the past hundred years the Garden State has been in the pheasant business.

Those days, however, are now over.

Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the DEP closed the 160-acre Rockport Game Farm in the Warren County township of Mansfield last month after new avian flu control regulations were instituted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We had to make a tough call, a determination that it would just not be cost-effective for use to continue operating the pheasant farm,” he said.

So why was the DEP in the pheasant business in the first place?

He explained part of the mission of the Division of Fish and Wildlife is to provide hunting opportunities for Jersey residents and pheasant hunting has long been very popular in this part of the state.

"It’s fun for people to hunt and it’s also good to eat," Hajna said.

He said after it was determined the farm would be shut down, several hundred thousand pheasants were released. The state is now accepting expressions of interest for repurposing the farm.

“We’re hoping to get lots of good ideas. This is a very rural area of the state with rolling hills and lots of farmlands. Some possibilities could be a farm, a poultry farm, tree nursery or even a vineyard," Hajna said.

Hajna pointed out that repurposing doesn’t mean a developer is going to come in and build townhouses.

“We’re not selling the farm. We’re looking for a lease opportunity that will generate revenues for the Division of Fish and Wildlife.”

He stressed just because the pheasant farm has been closed it doesn’t mean they won’t still be around.

“We still are buying pheasants from other areas for release, so the actual hunting opportunity for pheasants has not been impacted whatsoever.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com