Fall Turkey Hunters Bagged 164 In 2003
Harvest is Down 30 percent from 2002
ANNAPOLIS, MD - Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today that fall turkey hunters harvested 164 wild turkeys in the three western Maryland counties during the one-week hunting season, which was held Oct. 25 to Nov. 1. This is a 30-percent decrease from the 2002 harvest of 235 turkeys.
“DNR’s field staff reported extremely poor reproduction for wild turkeys in western Maryland during the summer of 2003,” said Paul Peditto, director of DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service. “Our brood surveys indicated that summer poult production was at a record-low level last summer in all regions of the state.”
As expected, juveniles were an unusually small percentage of the total harvest this fall, supporting the theory that recent reproduction problems are affecting turkey numbers in the region.
“Two consecutive poor nesting seasons and severe weather last winter have surely impacted turkey populations in the region,” said DNR’s wild turkey biologist Bob Long, “but populations can rebound surprisingly fast with 1 or 2 years of good poult production.”
Although weather, reproduction, and food availability can affect the success of fall turkey hunters from year to year, the decreased turkey harvest is probably influenced more by the steep decline in hunter participation over the last decade. Currently, fall turkey hunters in Maryland number fewer than half of those who hunted in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Allegany County reported the highest harvest with 70 turkeys, followed by Garrett County with 59 turkeys and Washington County with 35 turkeys. More than 30 percent of the turkeys were taken on public lands, illustrating the importance of DNR-owned lands in providing fall turkey-hunting opportunities.
A chart of the harvest season totals is below.
Posted January 16, 2004