January 20, 2022

Maine Turkey Season Starts Thursday

AUGUSTA, Maine — Today marks the start of the upland bird season in much of the state, and this fall, turkey hunters have an expanded season that starts October 3 and can take up to two birds this fall season.

Wild turkeys are a wildlife success story in Maine. Once gone from Maine landscapes, they are now a familiar sight in all Maine’s 16 counties, thanks to a reintroduction and management plan started in the 1970s by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

With a turkey population that continues to grow, turkey hunters are seeing the benefit as this fall they will see a longer season, higher bag limit, and more areas open to hunting than ever before. Successful hunters will be happy to know that there is a reduced registration fee, now only $2.00, down from $5.00.

“Maine has some of the finest turkey hunting opportunities in the eastern United States,” said Brad Allen, IFW’s game bird biologist, “Success rates are high, the birds are lightly hunted compared to other states, and there are a variety of areas to hunt turkeys in the state.”

The fall turkey season now spans four weeks starting October 3 and continuing through November 1, running concurrently with the archery season for deer. Hunters can hunt the entire day from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset. Hunters can take up to two turkeys this fall, but should note where they are hunting. In some western and eastern wildlife management districts (12, 13, 18, 26 and 29), hunters can only harvest one turkey of either sex or age but in southern and central Maine (WMDs 15-17, 20-25, and 28), hunters can take two turkeys of either sex or age. Wildlife Management Districts 1-11, 14, 19, and 27 are closed to fall turkey hunting, but are open for spring turkey hunting.

Today marks the beginning of the grouse and woodcock seasons, and the waterfowl season in the southern and coastal zones.

Grouse hunters who hunt in unorganized territories should take note of a new law that requires grouse hunters that are in or travelling through unorganized territories to label their harvested birds with their name and the date taken before the next calendar day.

An Unorganized Territory is defined by the state as the area of Maine having no local, incorporated municipal government. Unorganized territories in Maine consist of over 400 townships, plus many coastal islands that do not lie within municipal bounds.

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Finally! We Have a Visitor

After a few weeks at camp and tons of rain this summer, we have our first wildlife visitor (Okay, I don’t count the skunk).

campturkey

Photo by Al Remington

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WMD 27 in Maine Open for Spring Wild Turkey Hunting

With the beginning of the spring turkey hunting season just days away, Governor Paul R. LePage has signed into law a bill that expands hunting opportunities this spring in Downeast Maine.

The legislature approved bill LD 477, “An Act To Expand Wild Turkey Hunting,” and the Governor signed it into law on Thursday, April 25.

Department wildlife biologists have determined that the turkey population in WMD 27 is at a level that can withstand being open to the spring hunt. To pass the bill in time for the spring season, the IFW Committee voted it out of committee as an emergency at the Department’s request.

“I commend the Department for being able to open another district to turkey hunters, and I am pleased that we were able to enact it in time for Youth Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Day,” said Governor LePage.

This year’s Youth Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Day is Saturday, April 27. The Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Season is open from April 29 to June 1.

WMD 27 is that district along the coastline in Downeast Maine.

WMD 27 will be open for all hunters in possession of a big game hunting license and wild turkey hunting permit for bearded turkeys only. The permit costs $20 and is good for one bearded bird in the spring and a bird of either sex in the fall. Holders of a turkey permit may obtain a second bearded turkey permit for an additional $20. Resident youth hunters are not required to purchase a turkey permit but must have a junior hunting license.

Last year, more than 16,000 permits to hunt wild turkeys were sold in Maine.

Wild turkeys were absent from Maine since the early 1800s until restoration efforts began in 1977. In cooperation with the National Wild Turkey Federation, MDIFW and partners in Vermont captured 41 wild turkeys and transported and released them in York County. Following protocols developed in other states, Maine biologists and members of the now State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation slowly worked to trap and transfer birds east and north of the original releases.

Today, Department biologists estimate the statewide population to be in excess of 50,000 turkeys and we maintain that we have one of the very best turkey hunt programs in the east.

For more information on wild turkey hunting in Maine, please visit www.mefishwildlife.com

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Virus in Maine’s Wild Turkey Population

LPDV

Turkey hunters should be aware of Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus (LPDV), which has been found in Maine turkeys. Read below to find out more about the virus and what to do if you shoot or see a turkey that has LPDV.

What is Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus (LPDV)?

This is a virus that causes minor to extreme lesions on a turkey’s head and legs. It is thought to spread between turkeys by direct skin contact or through mosquito bites. Some turkeys can fend off minor infections and survive while others can develop extreme lesions that inhibit their sight and ability to eat, which ultimately leads to death.

Are there health risks for humans?

The disease poses no risk to human health. However, like all infections, caution is advised while handling a bird with LPDV. There is a potential for secondary bacterial infections if birds are handled improperly. Thoroughly cooking the meat to an internal temperature of a minimum of 165°F is also advised.

What should I do if I shoot a bird that looks like this?

Although wild turkeys cannot pass this virus on to humans, if you shoot a bird that looks like the above pictures and you do not want to eat it, do NOT register it and please contact a Wildlife Biologist at one of the offices listed below or call the Department of Public Safety in Augusta at (800) 452-4664 to be connected with a Game Warden. After examining the bird, the Department staff member will determine your eligibility to harvest another turkey.

Where did it come from?

Little is known about the origin of LPDV in the United States. LPDV was first detected in domestic turkeys in Europe. The first confirmed case in the United Sates was in wild turkeys in Georgia in 2009. MDIFW confirmed Maine’s first case of LPDV in April 2012. Since that time, we have confirmed several cases throughout the state. Currently, known cases occur virtually wherever wild turkeys are present. We speculate that a combination of a very good turkey production year in 2011 and the mild winter of 2011-2012 may have contributed to the apparent increase in occurrence recently. It is likely to be encountered in 2013 as well.

If you shoot or see a wild turkey with these lesions, please contact the IFW office closest to you:
Ashland – (207) 435-3231
Bangor – (207) 941-4466
Enfield – (207) 732-4132
Gray – (207) 657-2345
Greenville – (207) 695-3756
Jonesboro – (207) 434-5927
Sidney – (207) 547-5318
Strong – (207) 778-3324

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Maine Sen. Saviello Will Sponsor George Smith’s Turkey Hunting Bill

George Smith, former executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, now writer and activist, has evidently convinced Maine Senator Tom Saviello to sponsor a turkey hunting bill he has crafted.

First, we should commend Smith for his efforts to increase turkey hunting opportunities for Maine hunters, while finding ways to keep or cut costs to encourage more participation in the sport.

Briefly, Smith’s bill proposes to eliminate an extra fee to hunt turkeys. A big or small game license will allow for hunting turkeys.

Registering of turkeys will be done Online or by telephone.

Bag limits suggested are for two Toms (males) in the spring hunt and expand the fall hunt to two turkeys of either sex for the entire month of October; also an expansion.

Smith’s bill would allow spring shooting all day, as is done in the fall.

Most of this bill I can support except perhaps for two items. First I have some concerns that this bill sets bag limits while circumventing the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). I would hope that such a bill would not take away the fish and game department’s authority to adjust season lengths and bag limits according to need for sustainable yield.

Smith indicated that he is of the opinion that Maine has far more turkeys than the 50,000 estimated by MDIFW. If that is the case, then I understand the need perhaps to increase opportunities in order to decrease or slow down the growth rate of wild turkeys. This is all a management issue that shouldn’t have to come back to the Legislature to get changed, I wouldn’t think. My concern here is the proper management of turkeys and setting season dates, bag limits and shooting times are major concerns.

The second issue goes along with this and that is the shooting in the afternoons during the spring hunt. Generally, it is believed that protecting nesting hens during spring hunts helps to sustain the population. This is why, as Smith proposes in his bill, that harvest in spring will be two male turkeys only. Depending upon the exact timing of the spring hunt and the mating/nesting season of turkeys, hens do not leave their nests until after noon. With this, it is believed that hens would become more susceptible to being killed if shooting is allowed after noon. Not only would the hen run the risk of being killed but a dead hen means dead poults.

If Smith’s bill to allow shooting all day during the spring hunt is for the purpose of reducing growth and/or populations of turkeys, then I understand the intent (aside from providing more shooting time.) However, I still have concerns about taking away the authority of MDIFW to regulate this activity. Otherwise, it appears to me that each season there may be a need to go to the Legislature to change the items that would be enacted in this bill.

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Wild Turkeys Fighting Back

Tell me this is some kind of April Fool’s joke on Thanksgiving. Or tell me it could only happen in Brookline, which isn’t all that far from Plymouth Rock.

People are complaining because “aggressive” wild turkeys are attacking them.

“They were attacking the vehicle,”

“Then, the turkeys came and started attacking my front door,”

“I looked back and three of them charged me,”

“The turkey flew in my face and scratched my neck,”

“There was a gentleman who took a picture with a flash and they flew right into his face.”

“I can’t believe we’re living this way,”

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Tony Young – “Waitin’ on Tom” (featuring Scott Ellis)

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Wild Turkey Season Starts October 13, 2012 in Maine

One week of wild turkey hunting with shotgun begins tomorrow in selected Wildlife Management Districts. One wild turkey of either sex and any age per permit holder is allowed.

Shotguns are allowed in WMD’s 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26. For other Wildlife Management Districts it is archery only.

Dates of the shotgun hunt are October 13 through October 19, 2012. For complete rules and regulations, see the current edition of the Maine Hunting & Trapping Guide, or visit us on the web at www.mefishwildlife.com.

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MDIFW: This Year’s Turkey Brood Survey in Full Swing

It’s that time of the year when turkeys are in the air and on fields and roads, exploring and looking for nuts, seeds and berries.

That makes this month the best time for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to conduct its annual Turkey Brood Survey, which can impact the hunting season.

“These counts are very important because it gives us an idea of how many poults, or baby turkeys, we have entering the population,” said Information and Education Biologist Ashley Malinowski. “We can use that information combined with harvest counts from the previous fall to monitor the population and aid in determining season dates and bag limits in the future.”

The count has been conducted annually in August by a band of loyal Department biologists, National Wild Turkey Federation members and citizens interested in assisting in the effort.

The count helps the Department track the hatch and builds an index into the annual productivity of Maine’s turkey population. Monitoring the population allows the Department to fine-tune wild turkey management, both in areas that already have a healthy, harvestable population and ones that have the potential for initial or additional hunting opportunities.

When considering whether to open an area to spring or fall turkey hunting, wildlife managers look closely at the August brood survey to determine the productivity of turkeys in that specific area.

From the count, biologists can determine how many turkey poults have survived to an age where they can be considered as contributing to the population.

Members of the public who are interested in participating in the count only need the ability to recognize a turkey and distinguish males from females and adults from poults.

When participants see a brood, they need to count all of the birds in a flock, determine how large the poults are in comparison with an adult, only count turkeys in the month of August and make sure not to count the same flock twice.

Participants can record their findings on a survey form available online. It’s also a great time to count for female deer and fawns too, which are both included on the same form.

“When members of the public tell us how many flocks they saw for the month and how many birds in each flock, that’s one less area our biologists have to spend resources to go out surveying,” Malinowski said. “It also allows us to get information from all over the state, including in places we may not travel regularly, but other people do. Citizen science, or studies in which the public’s information is called upon, is extremely important in a lot of biological surveys because any time you are counting things, the more eyes you have on the look-out, the better.”

To find a printable version of our August 2012 Turkey Sighting Report Form or to learn more about the Turkey Brood Count, go to http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/turkey-broodsurvey_august.htm.

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WMD 9 In Maine Opens for Turkey Hunting

This from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

“As of Saturday, May 5, 2012, Wildlife Management District (WMD) 9 is open to turkey hunting through June 2nd. WMD 9 includes the area northeast of Greenville to Baxter State Park. Analysis of data and observations indicate the turkey population in the WMD is healthy and will support a hunting season like neighboring districts 10 and 14. All the rules and regulations involved in turkey hunting will apply, including having a valid spring Wild Turkey Permit and a valid hunting license.” (emphasis added)

I sure would like an explanation of “Analysis of data and observations”. Hmmmmmmm

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