New York Project
Wild Turkey Harvest Modeling
April 2021 - May 2025
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Several states have recently expanded spring hunting opportunities from half-day hunting during the spring (typically ½ hour before sunrise to noon) to all-day spring hunting (1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset). Despite declines in turkey populations in
New York, surveys of small game hunters and turkey permit holders indicate that a majority of hunters still have interest in all-day spring turkey hunting. Despite claims that all-day hunting during the spring has negligible impacts on turkey populations and positively influences hunter satisfaction, there is a conspicuous lack of research that addresses the potential impacts of all-day spring hunting on gobbler harvest and survival
rates, and how changes in these parameters may subsequently impact population age structure and hunter satisfaction. Previous research has indicated that in some parts of New York, harvest rates on male turkeys are already very high (50% or more), and all day hunting may push this rate even higher, altering the age structure of the population and hunter satisfaction. All day hunting may also negatively affect hen survival or hen nest success.
DEC will implement an experimental all-day spring season in four study areas, including up to 31 Wildlife Management Units open to spring turkey hunting. DEC will employ modified mandatory harvest reporting, post-season surveys, and in-season activity logs
that will be used to assess harvest pressure, take, and hunter satisfaction. NYCFWRU will estimate the effects of all‐day spring hunting (vs. half‐day hunting) on harvest rates and survival of male wild turkeys in different regions of New York. In addition,
NYCFWRU will work with the Cornell Center for Conservation Social Sciences (within the New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) to estimate the effects of all‐day spring hunting (vs. half day hunting) on hunter effort, success, and satisfaction in
different regions of New York. The results will provide DEC with an evaluation of the effects of spring hunting (all-day vs. half-day hunting) on harvest and survival rates and hunter satisfaction.