Cumberland Times-News

Outdoors

June 15, 2014

W.Va. gobbler harvest drops off 19 percent

— SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hunters in West Virginia checked in 9,017 bearded turkeys during the recent spring gobbler season, according to Curtis I. Taylor, chief of Wildlife Resources Section of the Division of Natural Resources. This year’s harvest represents a 19 percent decline from the 2013 harvest and a 6 percent departure from the five-year average.

Only District 2 encompassing the Potomac Highlands and Eastern Panhandle had a harvest increase (5 percent) when compared to 2013. All other districts had declines when compared to the past year: District 1 (20 percent), District 3 (28 percent), District 4 (17 percent), District 5 (27 percent), and District 6 (16 percent).

Preston (344) and Mason (297) counties led the state in total harvest. Rounding out the top 10 counties were Jackson (294), Wood (268), Harrison (264), Wyoming (263), Fayette (243), Greenbrier (242), Ritchie (237) and Roane (235).

“In most years, a significant portion of the spring gobbler harvest is composed of 2-year-old birds. Poor wild turkey reproduction in 2012 resulted in fewer birds of this age class available to hunters during the spring season,” Taylor said. “According to field reports, hunting pressure also was down from past seasons. This factor likely contributed to the overall harvest decline.”

Earlier predictions, which were based in part on measures of wild turkey recruitment and last fall’s mast crop, led wildlife biologists to anticipate a lower statewide harvest in 2014, according to Taylor. These forecasts for a lower harvest this spring proved to be accurate.

“Biologists are hopeful this spring will continue to provide moderate-to-average rainfall, support above-average reproduction and allow wild turkey populations to expand,” Taylor said.

Harvests in some other counties, with the 2013 kill in parentheses, are Tucker 84 (57), Berkeley 113 (98), Grant 143 (129), Hampshire 137 (124), Hardy 135 (129), Jefferson 56 (60), Mineral 93 (87), Morgan 63 (54) and Pendleton 94 (117).

 

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