CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Preliminary harvest numbers for the 2011 spring gobbler season show a take of 9,216 bearded turkeys, a decline of 10 percent from the 2010 harvest of 10,209 birds. Division of Natural Resources' wildlife officials surmise a combination of inclement weather, high gas prices, and lower turkey numbers were major factors in the lower kill.
"Our biologists had predicted a slightly lower harvest based on poorer productivity in 2009," said Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the Wildlife Resources Section. "Preliminary reports from field personnel also indicate a lower hunter turnout, probably due to high fuel prices and many rainy days during the season."
The harvest was down 12 percent each in Districts 1 and 2, down 9 percent each in Districts 3 and 6, down 16 percent in District 5, and up slightly in District 4. Top counties were Mason with a kill of 447, Preston (325), Kanawha (310), Jackson (291), and Wood (276). Rounding out the top 10 counties were Marshall (254), Greenbrier (253), Harrison (242), Wyoming (242), Fayette (237), and Putnam (237).
The 2011 spring kill is the lowest since 1990, when 9,152 birds were checked. "Let's hope for a dry June so young poults will have high survival and bolster populations, although it will take several years of good brood production to get turkey numbers to levels they were 10 years ago," Taylor said.