Fall Turkey Take by County
As described in DEC's Wild Turkey Management Plan (PDF) (283 kB), DEC estimates the total turkey harvest based on surveys of approximately 12,000 turkey permit holders after the close of the hunting season. This results in a calculated harvest based on estimated reporting rates. This provides a more accurate harvest estimate and a more realistic assessment of the status of New York's wild turkey populations.
Estimated wild turkey harvest during fall 2015 was 2,045 birds, a roughly 60% decrease from the fall 2014 estimated harvest. This reduction in the estimated take was anticipated based on the changes made to the fall season structure for 2015. In the Northern Zone, where the season length was reduced by one-third and the bag limit was reduced to one bird, we observed a decline in estimated take of 64%. In the Southern Zone, where the season length was reduced by one-half (western NY) or two-thirds (southeastern NY), we observed a decline in estimated take of roughly 63%. In Suffolk County (Long Island), where the season went from one week to two weeks, the reported take more than doubled but was still relatively low.
As expected, based on the reduction in season length and bag limit in many counties, we observed a decrease in estimated harvest is most counties from fall 2014 to fall 2015. That said, we observed an increase or no change in harvest between years in eight counties including four in western New York (Orleans, Genesee, Chemung, and Erie counties), two in northern New York (Essex and Warren counties), and two in the southern part of the state (Putnam and Suffolk counties). The counties with the highest estimated take in fall 2015 were Delaware, Chautauqua, Steuben, Otsego, and for the first time, Suffolk County (Long Island).
The estimated number of fall turkey hunters decreased about 23% from 2014 to 2015, which was anticipated based on the changes made to the season length. When we control for changes in participation and effort, the estimated take/100 days effort increased on Long Island from 2014 to 2015, was similar between years in western New York, and declined in the rest of the state. The declines in take/100 days effort were likely the result of harsh winter conditions in 2015 and a slight decline in reproductive success from summer 2014 to summer 2015. In addition, in areas with abundant hard and soft mast, birds did not have to roam far and wide in search of food, making them less vulnerable to harvest.
Changes adopted in fall 2015 are being evaluated as part of a four-year research program. DEC staff banded and radio-tracked hens in 2013 and 2014 under the previous fall season structure and continued to band and track hens in 2015 and 2016 to help evaluate the effects of fall season changes on hen harvest and survival. This information will be used along with information on turkey abundance, productivity, and hunter activity and harvest data collected annually, to determine future fall harvest opportunities that are sustainable under current environmental conditions and trends in turkey populations.
|Region||Fall 2014||Fall 2015||Change in Season Structure
2014 to 2015
|Long Island (Suffolk Co.)||5.0||6.6||1 week, 1 bird to 2 weeks, 1 bird|
|Lake Plains||0.7||1.0||No change|
|Western NY||1.1||1.0||4 weeks, 1 bird to 2 weeks, 1 bird|
|1.7||1.0||3 weeks, 1 bird to 2 weeks, 1 bird|
|St. Lawrence Valley||5.1||3.5||3 weeks, 2 birds to 2 weeks, 1 bird|
|Southeastern NY||2.5||1.4||7 weeks, 2 birds to 2 weeks, 1 bird|