Long Island Turkey Hunt Harvest Estimate

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Long Island's first ever wild turkey regulated hunting season concluded on Nov. 25, with a harvest of approximately 100 birds, just in time for Thanksgiving, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Peter A. Scully announced. The season, held from Nov. 21-25, 2009, was made possible because of DEC's successful wild turkey restoration efforts made in the early 1990s.

The reported birds were taken in various locations throughout the towns of Brookhaven, Southampton, Riverhead and East Hampton. The first bird taken off of state land and examined at DEC's hunter check station at Ridge was a 14-pound male, and had a beard measuring 8.5 inches. The longest beard harvested and checked at the station was 11 inches. A "beard" is a cluster of modified feathers that hangs from the male bird's breast. The largest bird recorded at the station was a 19-pound adult male.

No hunting safety incidents were reported throughout the duration of the season. More than 650 people came through the check station during the five-day season to hunt on the state-owned Rocky Point and Otis Pike properties. Many others likely hunted on private lands throughout Suffolk County.

"Overall, we are very pleased with how the season worked out," said Chip Hamilton, DEC wildlife biologist. "We are already looking forward to our second wild turkey season in fall 2010. Currently, we expect the season timing, hunt area and bag limits to be the same as in 2009."

Restoration of the Turkey Population

Long Island's wild turkey population is a relatively recent phenomenon. Populations of wild turkey on Long Island disappeared in the late 19th century due to a reduction in forested habitat, as these environments were cleared for colonial farms and firewood. In the early 1990s, the DEC trapped approximately 75 wild turkeys in upstate New York and released those birds at three locations in Suffolk County. The Long Island population is now estimated at more than 3,000 birds and growing.

Wild turkeys are becoming a common sight at many locations in Suffolk County. Their population has reached a level that in some locations, nuisance permits have to be issued in order to control the amount of damage that the birds are causing.

For more information on hunting seasons and regulations, please visit the DEC website at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/hunting.html. For tips and further details on regulations on turkey hunting, contact DEC regional wildlife office at (631) 444-0310.