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Ohio 2011 spring turkey harvest shows 21% decline

From the Ohio Department of Natural Resources

-- Hunters checked 18,485 wild turkeys during Ohio's four-week, statewide spring turkey hunting season that ended May 15.

The preliminary total represents a 21 percent decrease over last year's harvest number of 23,421-the second-highest all-time.  

"I expected to see at least a 10 percent decline in this year's spring turkey harvest as a result of the poor hatch in 2009," said Mike Reynolds. "However, the wettest April on record in Ohio hampered turkey hunting and resulted in a lower than expected harvest this season."
 
Ashtabula County again led the state in the number of turkeys killed with 712. Counties with additional high harvest numbers were Tuscarawas with 583, Knox with 513, Adams and Guernsey with 507, Harrison with 483, Muskingum with 462, Coshocton and Highland with 447, and Belmont and Monroe with 444.

Ohio's game check system performed as expected this spring turkey season. Only a few minor modifications have been suggested for the fall season, but since the new automated game check system is built on a web-based platform making needed modifications to the system can be accomplished. The Division of Wildlife will continue to monitor the game check and licensing systems and make changes as needed for customer convenience.

Hunters had three options to complete the new automated game check: online at www.wildohio.com, by phone at (877)824-4864 for those required to have a turkey permit to hunt turkeys, and at all license agents, a list available online.

All three check-in methods were used, with 44 percent of hunters choosing the phone method. Hunters checking at a license agent location and online were both at 28 percent.

Questions to (800)945-3543 about the new game checking process were also monitored. Only 10 percent of call center volume, 30 of 300 phone calls, on opening day of turkey season was in reference to the new automated game check system, with hunters successfully checking 2,646 birds that day.  

The Division of Wildlife estimates that more than 70,000 people hunted turkeys during the season. Prior to the start of the spring hunting season, state wildlife biologists estimated the wild turkey population in Ohio to be more than 200,000 birds.
 
Wild turkeys were nearly extirpated in Ohio before being reintroduced in the mid-1950s by the Division of Wildlife. The first spring turkey hunting season opened in 1966. Wild turkeys are now present in all 88 counties.
 
Turkey hunters are reminded that hunting licenses purchased now are also valid during the 2011 fall hunting season. Spring turkey permits are good for spring season only. Those participating in the fall turkey season will need to buy a fall turkey permit.

The 2011-2012 licenses will not be printed on weatherproof paper. Sportsmen and women should protect their licenses and permits from the elements by carrying them in a protective pouch or wallet.

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