MONTPELIER, Vt. – A preliminary report from Vermont Fish & Wildlife shows that hunters had a banner season this spring with the highest turkey harvest ever recorded. Hunters brought home 6,570 wild turkeys during the spring hunting season, including 743 turkeys taken during the April youth weekend hunt.
"The hunter success rate increased from the previous year of 21 percent to 29 percent of hunters harvesting at least one bird," said state wild turkey project leader Chris Bernier. "And, 32 percent of those successful hunters harvested a second bearded bird to fill the two-bird spring bag limit."
A similar number of hunters took to the woods this year with 17,106 turkey hunting licenses purchased, compared to 17,249 in 2016.
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 harvested with 720 taken in WMU-J2. The northern Lake Champlain valley also proved to be a productive region with 675 turkeys taken in WMU-B – a 22 percent increase in harvest from the previous year and a new record harvest for this part of the state.
"While the relatively mild winter conditions experienced this year certainly helped," Bernier said, "the prioritization of high quality spring hunting over fall harvest opportunities in accordance with the 2010-2020 Big Game Management Plan may be the reason."
"The restoration of wild turkeys to Vermont that began in 1969 coupled with the careful management of the population is a wildlife success story we can all be proud of," added Bernier. "Vermont continues to be the preeminent state in New England for wild turkey hunting, and the birds are also enjoyed by those who just like to watch them."
Conservation of wild turkey habitat continues to play a key role in the health and vitality of their population. Bernier notes that a patchwork of fields and forests provide most of what a turkey needs to survive. "Efforts from private landowners, volunteer based conservation groups like the National Wild Turkey Federation and state agencies to protect habitat go a long way toward ensuring wild turkeys are around in the future."
Media Contacts: Chris Bernier 802-289-0628, Scott Darling 802-786-3826, Mark Scott 802-777-4217