New Jersey Turkey Season Now Open

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The approach of spring and its warmer weather means New Jersey's Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Season has begun. This year the regular season started on April 14 and runs for six weeks. With turkey populations restored statewide, Garden State hunters can enjoy some of the finest turkey hunting on the East Coast right in their own backyards.

SPRING OUTLOOK

The statewide wild turkey population is currently estimated at more than 22,000 birds, and the outlook for this spring's turkey season is fair. Biologists do not predict a record harvest as poult production in 2007 was not optimal despite the warm, dry weather experienced last spring and summer.

There is a positive side though, as the winter survival rate of poults has been good throughout the state. Low snowfall totals this past winter did not have an impact on turkey survival. In fact, smaller poults from late hatches in 2007 probably had high survival rates this past winter due to the lack of lengthy cold and snowy periods.

This year, biologists viewed long term trends in harvest data. Every township statewide was analyzed for the past 10 years to determine which areas had a spring harvest that was increasing, decreasing, or stable. The data received from the fifty-one statewide mandatory checking stations was critically important for this study, and it continues to be a huge asset to managing wild turkeys in New Jersey.

The results of the analysis showed that townships in far northern New Jersey, including Turkey Hunting Areas 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7, had fairly stable harvests over the past few years. Townships in north-central New Jersey have experienced large declines in spring harvest during the same time period. The areas with declining harvests include Turkey Hunting Areas 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12.

Interestingly, parts of Pennsylvania directly across the Delaware River from these Turkey Hunting Areas are also experiencing declines in spring harvest according to Pennsylvania biologists. Reasons for this decline may include poor summer weather conditions for young poults, and loss of turkey habitat.

In southern New Jersey most Turkey Hunting Areas experienced stable or increasing spring harvests over the past several years. These areas include Turkey Hunting Areas 14, 15, 16, 20, 21 and 22.

LAST SPRING'S HARVEST

Spring wild turkey hunters harvested 3,067 gobblers during the six-week season that began on April 14 and ended on May 25, 2007. It was the sixth largest harvest since the spring turkey season was established in 1981, and was slightly below the average harvest of the last five years.

Approximately 21,115 spring turkey-hunting permits were issued for the 2007 season with hunters achieving a success rate of 14.5 percent. The 2007 spring harvest was very similar to the 2006 harvest in the southern Turkey Hunting Areas (12 - 22). In several northern New Jersey areas, however, the harvest was substantially lower than 2006 levels.

PERMIT INFORMATION

The upcoming spring season quota is 29,250 permits. Hunters who applied for permits through the lottery should have already received notifications of their results in the lottery. Applicants that did not receive an email or postcard notification can check to see if they were successful in obtaining a permit through the online license and permit Web site.

Leftover permits can be purchased at license agents and/or via the Internet. Permits will be available as long as the permit supply lasts or the season ends. If you decide to use the Internet you cannot print the permits from home. They must be mailed, and can take 7 – 10 business days (additional shipping charges apply.) An up-to-date chart of all leftover permits is available at www.njfishandwildlife.com. Click on the green "button" to "Buy your licenses and permits online now!" and there will be a link that says "Click here for the zone/period availability information."

Please note that there was an increase in the number of applicants for the spring lottery this year. As a result many of the more popular zone and period combinations sold out in the lottery and are not available for leftover sales. These include: 9G, 11G, 12 A, 12G, 14A, 14B, 14G, 15A, 15B, 15G, 16A, 16G, 20A, 20G, 21A, 21B, 21G, 22A, 22B and 22G. Hunters who were hoping to obtain permits for these zone and period combinations are urged to remember to apply in the lottery next year.

Important Note: During the March 31, 2008 over-the-counter sales there was a reporting error that caused several turkey zone and period combinations to be closed prematurely. These have been reopened and made available for sale. The Division is pulling data to compile a list of people who attempted to purchase a prematurely closed zone during the affected time period. Information on this can be obtained by calling 609-292-2965.

The following zones / periods were affected: 2G, 5A, 5G, 8A, 8G, 9A, 9B, 11A, 12B, 14C, 14E, 15C, 15E, 20B and 21C.