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For Release: Wednesday, June 28, 2023

DEC Announces Successful First-Ever Spring Wild Turkey Hunt on Long Island

Inaugural Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Season Marks Conservation Milestone for New York

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the successful culmination of the first-ever spring wild turkey hunting season on Long Island. DEC took nearly 1,000 reservations for state-managed lands throughout the month-long season, totaling around 2,000 people; no hunting safety incidents were reported. The new hunting opportunity, held from May 1 to 31, is a success story for wildlife conservation in New York.

"DEC is delighted with the outcome of a safe and successful season for thousands of Long Island hunters," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "DEC is already eagerly anticipating our second wild turkey season in spring 2024, as well as the upcoming fall season later this year."

Hunters who harvested a turkey on State-managed properties were required to have the bird checked by DEC staff at the Ridge Hunter Check Station to collect biological data. The first hunt of its kind on Long Island, collecting reliable data is critical to ensure such opportunities are sustainable for years to come.

The first bird harvested on State land during the inaugural season was a 23-pound adult male turkey (tom) with a beard (a cluster of modified feathers that look like hair) measuring 8.5 inches. The largest bird recorded at the check station was a 26-pound tom harvested at DEC's Otis Pike Preserve. Approximately 90 percent of the harvest reports were for toms, with the remaining 10 percent being "jakes" (one-year-old male turkeys). Hunting participation, effort, and harvest are estimated based on post-season surveys of turkey permit holders. Final estimates will be available later this summer.

The spring season on Long Island was possible due to successful wild turkey restoration and management efforts started by DEC in the 1990s. Populations of wild turkeys on Long Island disappeared in the late 19th Century due to reduced forested habitat, as these environments were cleared for farms and firewood. In the mid-1990s, DEC trapped approximately 75 wild turkeys in upstate New York and released these birds at two locations in Suffolk County. Since that time, wild turkeys have become a common sight at many locations in Suffolk County, and some areas in Nassau County. DEC monitors population size and distribution through annual surveys and harvest indices. Based on that information, DEC determined the population is sufficient to support a spring hunting season.

In 2009, the first fall-only wild turkey season opened in the region. DEC carefully monitored this new season over the ensuing years and confirmed the Long Island wild turkey population could continue to thrive while under hunting pressure. Long Island proved to be a region where safe and successful hunting of wild turkey is possible, with no hunting safety incidents reported throughout 14 fall seasons.

Additional information can be found at the following webpages:

Hunting on Long Island

Long Island Public Hunting Areas

Public Hunting Opportunities in Suffolk County, Long Island

Conditions for Use of DEC-Managed Lands in Suffolk County

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