Locally, the Owen Denny chapter was established in 1989 in an effort to improve the declining pheasant and habitat populations in the Willamette Valley and throughout Oregon.
Named after the homesteaded Denny farm at Peterson Butte and Owen Denny himself, Oregons claim to this beautiful bird started in the year 1880 when Owen was consul-general for the U.S. in the city of Shangai, China. There he was introduced to this beautiful, tasteful bird.
On March 13, 1881, around 60 Chinese ring-necked pheasants arrive in Port Townsend aboard the ship Otago. United States consul general Owen Nickerson Denny (1838-1900) and his wife Gertrude Jane Hall Denny (1837-1933) have shipped the pheasants, along with other Chinese birds and plants, from Shanghai in hopes of establishing a population in their home state of Oregon. Most of the pheasants succumb as they are transported from the Olympic Peninsula to Portland. A few survivors are released on the lower Columbia River, but accounts differ as to whether this population survives.
Perhaps unsure how the first pheasants were doing, the Dennys made a second effort in 1882, sending more ring-necked pheasants and other Chinese birds directly to Portland. Owen's brother John Denny released those ringnecks near the family's Willamette Valley homestead in Linn County (Peterson Butte, Lebanon), and this time the introduction was a clear success. Within a year, ring-necked pheasants had spread to surrounding counties. Owen Denny used his political connections to win passage of state legislation banning hunting until the population was sufficiently established. The pheasants thrived and when the first pheasant season opened in Oregon in 1892, hunters reportedly bagged 50,000 birds on the first day.