West Virginia Hunters Harvest 9,017 Spring Turkeys in 2014
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Preliminary harvest figures for the 2014 spring gobbler season indicate West Virginia hunters checked in 9,017 bearded turkeys, 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 had a harvest increase (up 5 percent) when compared to 2013. All other districts had harvest declines when compared to last year: District 1 (down 20 percent), District 3 (down 28 percent), District 4 (down 17 percent), District 5 (down 27 percent), and District 6 (down 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.