AUGUSTA, Maine -- Turkey registration books have been collected from throughout southwest, central and coastal Maine, and preliminary numbers indicate that in 2002, turkey hunters in Maine bagged a record number of turkeys. Maine's turkey season was from April 29 to June 1, and during that span, 3,391 turkeys were registered at area tagging stations.
The 3,391 registered turkeys is a marked increase from last year's record of 2,517. In all, there were 1,913 toms (adult males), 1,471 jakes (juvenile males) and seven females tagged for a total of 2,517 birds. 9,000 permits were issued this year, an increase of 7,000 permits over the previous year. The number of hunters applying for a permit also increased, from a little over 18,000 last year to nearly 26,000 this year. The spring turkey hunt restricts permit holders to one bearded turkey.
"This was just an outstanding season for turkey hunters in Maine. The 38% success rate shows that there is an abundance of wild turkeys in Maine," said Gene Dumont, Regional Wildlife Supervisor for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Over the summer months, biologists will be reviewing surveys returned by turkey hunters, and will consider changes in the hunt for next season.
"Surveys and public working groups have shown that people would like to see an open spring hunt in Maine, and that is what we are working towards," said Dumont, "We also want to continue to have a quality hunt, and keep interference to a minimum. It makes the sport more enjoyable and safer."
This fall, for the first time, there will be a fall archery hunt for turkeys. The Commissioner's Advisory Council approved a rule calling for a Fall Wild Turkey Hunting season. The season would run from October 21, 2002 through November 1, 2002 in Southern Oxford, York, Cumberland, Lincoln, Knox, Waldo, and Kennebec Counties. Anyone who possesses an archery license may purchase a permit to hunt wild turkey during this fall season. Only a bow and arrow may be used to hunt turkeys during this season.
Wild turkeys, once extirpated in Maine due to the clearing of land and excessive shooting in the 1800's, are now a familiar site in southwestern, central and coastal Maine, and their range is expanding. Turkeys were reintroduced successfully into Maine in the late 70's when the state received 41 turkeys from Vermont and released them in York and Eliot. The first modern turkey hunt was in 1986. Presently, there are an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 wild turkeys in Maine.
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