Annual Report 2007-2008 - 8

percent (in 2001), and as low as 3 percent (1978). The 2007 spring harvest of 36,296 bearded birds (which does not include second birds harvested with the special turkey license) was four percent less than spring 2006, and five percent less than the previous 10-year average, during which time there were record harvests of more than 40,000 bearded birds from 2000-2003. The spring 2007 hunting season marked the second year hunters 2007-08 could harvest a second bearded bird with the appropriate license, statewide, but only one bearded bird per day. Hunters purchased 7,585 (8,041 in 2006) special turkey licenses, which had mandatory reporting (postage-paid post card) regardless of success. Because this was only the second year of mandatory reporting, we mailed reminder letters to 1,000 randomly selected nonrespondents, of which 95 percent did not harvest a second turkey. The estimated harvest attributable to the second license was 1,507 (1,454 in 2006) with a success rate of 20 percent (compared to 18 percent in 2006). During the 2007 youth spring turkey hunt 5,256 juniors participated with a total estimated harvest of 1,524 bearded birds, for an astounding success rate of 29 percent. Beginning in 2007, youngsters under 12 years of age were permitted to participate in the spring turkey season as long as they were mentored by a licensed adult 21 years or older. Participating mentored youth harvested 3,496 spring gobblers, or approximately eight percent of the total spring harvest. The fall turkey hunting season is the primary means of managing the turkey population. Data from population indices showed that the fall 2007 season could be lengthened in WMU 4D (from 2 to 3 weeks), but the seasons in two WMUs (2A & 2F) needed to be shortened (from three to two weeks) to aid in population restoration. Numbers of fall turkey hunters (162,323 in 2007) and days of fall turkey hunting (522,911 in 2007) have been decreasing since the mid 1990s. Even so, the fall 2007 harvest of 25,369 was 4 percent higher than the 2006 harvest (24,482), but 29 percent below the previous 10-year average. This trend of lower harvests is due to a combination of shorter seasons in almost half of the WMUs since 2004, average to below average spring reproduction, fewer fall turkey hunters and abundant fall mast crops, which tend to disperse turkey flocks, making them more difficult for hunters to locate. Even though participation has been decreasing, statewide fall hunter success increased in 2007 to 16 percent (13 percent in 2006), and was 15 percent higher than the previous 3-year average. Hunter success has been as high as 21 percent (2001), and as low as 4 percent (1979). 2007-08 marked the third year of a 4-year cooperative research study with New York and Ohio to determine harvest rates of male wild turkeys during the spring hunting season in these three states. Each winter 300 gobblers are being leg banded in each state, with half of the bands providing a $100 reward for reporting the harvest. Reward money is being furnished by a $121,893 grant from the National Wild Turkey Foundation. The number of turkeys banded now exceeds 2,500 for the first three years of the study, totaling $42,500 in reward payments to date, with $17,100 to Pennsylvania hunters. Some wild turkey flocks in the greater Pittsburgh area have grown in numbers beyond the local social carrying capacity. In some of these areas hunting is not a viable option and/or habitat modifications and the cessation of artificial feeding has not been successful in minimizing nuisance problems. In 2008 we initiated a 3-year pilot project to trap and transfer nuisance flocks to rural areas at least 10 miles away to determine if relocation of nuisance turkeys is a viable option for incorporation into future PGC wildlife management plans from both an ecological and social perspective. We are col8 GAME NEWS

Annual Report 2007-2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Annual Report 2007-2008

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Annual Report 2007-2008 - 2
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