New Wild Turkey Hunting Opportunities

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Due to the Ernie Eves government's wildlife restoration activities, a sustainable wild turkey population now exists in Ontario, allowing us to expand hunting opportunities in eastern and southern Ontario, Natural Resources Minister Jerry Ouellette announced today.

"We are committed to sustainable recreational hunting opportunities," said Ouellette. "This gives hunters more opportunities to hunt for turkeys in additional areas of the province and provides a boost to the provincial economy. "

Over-harvesting and loss of habitat wiped out wild turkeys in Ontario in the early 1900s. Ontario started its restoration program in 1984 with the help of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH). By 1987, a sustainable population was established with birds transferred from the United States. In recent years, the National Wildlife Turkey Federation has also made significant contributions to the restoration program.

Sustainability is a top priority of the Ernie Eves government. Restoration activities will continue to enhance the wild turkey population, now estimated at more than 48,000 birds.

The new opportunities are in Wildlife Management Units 62, 86A, 86B and 94B, increasing the number of wildlife management units offering wild turkey hunts in Ontario from 63 to 67. In 2003, wild turkey hunting begins April 25 and runs until May 31.

To qualify for a turkey hunting licence, hunters must attend a wild turkey seminar and pass a test. The Ministry of Natural Resources has partnered with the OFAH to deliver the mandatory wild turkey hunter training seminars and exam.

Accredited wild turkey hunters can apply for a wild turkey licence by calling the Ministry of Natural Resources' toll-free Electronic Licensing Line at 1-800-288-1155. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until April 30, 2003. To use this system, hunters need their 15-digit Outdoors Card number, a valid credit card number, and either a touch-tone or pulse telephone.

After the application is made, a wild turkey licence with game seal will be mailed to the hunter within seven business days. Hunters should be aware that turkey licences are not valid unless the hunter also has a valid small game licence. Licences are available through some ministry offices and from a limited number of private licence vendors.