Spring Gobbler Harvest Results Down

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Hunters in West Virginia harvested 10,461 turkeys during the 2004 spring gobbler season, according to Jim Pack , Wild Turkey Project Leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Section. Preliminary harvest figures indicate that the turkey kill was 16.5% lower than 2003. This ranks as the 16 th highest harvest on record since West Virginia 's spring turkey season was initiated in 1966.

The top five counties this spring were Mason (393), Preston (335), Summers (312), Raleigh (297) and Roane (294). The decline in this year's kill occurred throughout much of the state, with 46 of the state's 55 counties reporting lower harvests than last spring. The nine counties observing higher harvests this year included Brooke, Hancock, Berkeley, Hardy, Jefferson, Boone, Logan, McDowell and Raleigh. The highest harvest figures were reported in DNR District 1 (2,371), followed by District 6 (2,100), District 4 (1,934), District 5 (1,799), District 3 (1,325) and District 2 (932).

The decline in this year's harvest is directly related to poor wild turkey brood production in both 2002 and 2003. “The cold, wet weather that occurred during the previous two nesting and brood rearing seasons reduced wild turkey populations across the state,” Pack noted. “More favorable weather conditions during this critical period should allow turkey populations to recover from these recent declines.”

As a result of lower wild turkey numbers, only 4 non-traditional counties will be opened to a one-week fall turkey hunting season in 2004. These include Brooke, Hancock, Marshall and Ohio counties in the northern panhandle. The traditional fall turkey hunting counties will continue to have a four-week season in Berkeley , Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, Monroe , Morgan, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph , Tucker and Webster counties. Preston County will have a 2-week fall turkey season.