Hunters took 5,537 turkeys during 2016 spring season
MONTPELIER — A preliminary report that the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department released last week shows that hunters brought home 5,537 wild turkeys during the spring hunting season — 40 more than the average of the three previous years. That total included 662 turkeys taken during the April youth weekend hunt.
“The hunter success rate remained steady with 21 percent of hunters harvesting at least one bird,” said state wild turkey project leader Amy Alfieri. “And, 32 percent of those successful hunters harvested a second bearded bird to fill the two-bird spring bag limit.”
More hunters participated in the hunt this year with 17,249 turkey hunting licenses being purchased, compared to 16,511 in 2015.
Turkeys were hunted statewide with turkeys harvested in 241 of Vermont’s 253 towns. The central Connecticut River Valley saw the highest number of birds taken with 628 from WMU-J2. Hunters took 555 turkeys in WMU-B, in the northwest, and 491 from north-central WMU-D1.
Alfieri says the 2010-2020 Big Game Management Plan calls for prioritizing high quality spring hunting over fall harvest opportunities and that it is really paying off.
“We believe this management strategy helped stimulate the statewide expansion of turkeys, resulting in an impressive string of record harvests, including the most recent in 2013 when 6,362 turkeys were taken,” she said. “Long-term harvest trends suggest that turkey harvest numbers were stable through 2008. We have been closely monitoring a slight declining trend in the annual harvest since then, but it is a positive sign to see an uptick in the harvest this past season.”
Conservation of wild turkey habitat continues to play a key role in the health and vitality of their population. Alfieri notes that a patchwork of fields and forests provide most of what a turkey needs to survive.
“Efforts from private landowners, conservation groups and state agencies to protect habitat go a long way toward ensuring wild turkeys are around in the future,” she said.
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