Wild Turkey in New Jersey

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The Division's Turkey Restoration Project represents one of the greatest wildlife management success stories in the history of the state. By the mid-1800s, turkeys had disappeared in New Jersey due to habitat changes and killing for food. Division biologists, in cooperation with the NJ Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, reintroduced wild turkeys in 1977 with the release of 22 birds. In 1979 biologists and technicians began to live-trap and re-locate birds to establish populations throughout the state. By 1981 the population was able to support a spring hunting season, and in December, 1997, a limited fall season was initiated.

There is now an abundance of wild turkeys throughout the state with turkeys found wherever there is suitable habitat. Even in South Jersey, where wild turkeys had been struggling just a few years ago, intensive restoration efforts have improved population numbers significantly. The population is estimated at 20,000 - 23,000 with an annual harvest of more than 3,000.

Youth turkey hunters aged 10 to 16 with a permit can hunt in any hunting period in the zone that they draw a permit for during the spring season. Youth hunters aged 10 to less than 14 must be under the supervision of a licensed adult who is at least 21 years of age. The adult does not have to have a turkey permit, but they do have to have a regular license. This regulation applies until the youth takes a turkey. After taking a turkey, the youth is subject to the same hunting period and zone restrictions as an adult.


Retired2hunt's picture

  Kudos goes out to New


Kudos goes out to New Jersey and their successful efforts in reintroducing wildlife and managing it to the point of being able to create a hunting season or two.  This is just one of many other successes of reintroduction we have read about in recent weeks.  The great thing here too is the introduction of a youth hunt that allows us to get young men and women out into the fields and woods more.  Great Job New Jersey!


numbnutz's picture

This is a great story.

This is a great story. Reintroducing and sound management at it's finest. It amazing that in this short time turkeys have been brought back to a state that had none. Started with 22 birds and now have a population of 20,000-30,000 birds. Thats just incredible. I love that they offer youths a great chance at the turkeys too. Oregon had a similar sucess story. Now we have an abundant amount of birds. Spring hunts are OTC and fall is mostly draw but there are a few OTC areas where turkeys have flurished. I have one been bird hunt once and it was last spring. I'm hoping to make it out this fall but now it's not looking so good. We can get up to 3 birds a year now, thats how good our population is. I really like reading sucess stories like this. Keep up the good work..

Ca_Vermonster's picture

I have hunted turkey for 3 or

I have hunted turkey for 3 or 4 years now, and I can't seem to close the deal.  But I most say, it's a really exciting type of hunting!  We have a similar story here in San Diego county where they introduced just a few birds about 18-20 years ago, and now the population is very similar to that of New Jersey's.  It's doing so well, that you can get 3 mirds in the spring, and they even opened a fall season for the first time 2 years ago.

Glad to see them doing so well in New Jersey!  Also glad to see another state giving youth the opportunity at an extra or special season to get into some different animals, in this case, turkeys!