CORTLAND NY – As the New York Southern Tier wild turkey fall season is set to open on October 21st, it will mark the 58 year anniversary of the fall season. The spring turkey season this past spring shares a 50 year milestone with the founding of the New York Outdoor Writers Association (NYSOWA) celebrated this past weekend in Lake George, New York.
The first fall season held in 1959 premiered as a three-day either-sex season, limited to two Southern Tier counties (Allegany and Cattaraugus.) It was reported that there were 250 successful hunters in the inaugural modern day season.
The first modern day spring turkey season in New York premiered in 1968 and was held in five Southern Tier counties (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, and Steuben.) It was reported that there were 135 gobblers (males, bearded) successfully tagged in the inaugural spring season.
A major historical milestone when reviewed against the backdrop of a grand conservation story of the wild turkey and its restoration from nearing the brink of extinction. During the early 1900’s, logging and farm practices of the day coupled with unrestricted subsistence harvesting and market hunting wreaked havoc on wild turkey flocks. Currently, the estimated population in New York would dwarf the estimates of the entire Continental United States a hundred years ago, dipping as low as an estimated 30,000 birds.
Wild turkeys are found across the entire state, including feathered sightings in Manhattan, Staten Island and on Long Island. The flourishing flocks were used to help restore populations in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and the Province of Ontario.
Conservation efforts and research continues- weather/brooding success models, land use studies, landholding capacity models, and avian (and other) disease studies are put forth to provide scientific tools for wildlife agencies to help manage populations, set seasons and bag limits to maintain healthy and flourishing populations.
A great conservation success story of the wild turkey restoration and comeback in New York! The thousands of hours of efforts of wildlife professionals, conservationists, volunteers, modern day hunting practices of ethical sportsmen, excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment along with funds raised by thousands of donations, superfund dollars and grants from the National Wild Turkey Federation have made this success story in New Y
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