Page 142 - The Hunt - Spring 2019
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                 turkeys to unoccupied but worthy habitats. Beginning in 1973, aggressive trap-and- transfer programs restored wild turkey populations here and in Canada. By the early 2000s, their numbers had recovered
own. We didn’t want to create a nuisance turkey population.”
Steve “Jake” Jenkinson has never seen a wild turkey during his tenure as the prop- erty manager for Paradise Farm Camps in
"IF THE STATE PUTS 10 BIRDS OUT THERE, IT’S STILL THE SAME 10 BIRDS. THERE ARE JUST NOT ENOUGH LONG, LARGE WOODLOTS TO GIVE
THE PROTECTION AND SHELTER TURKEYS NEED."
to about 7 million in all states but Alaska. In Pennsylvania, the population peaked
at 280,000 in 1999-2000. Between 2015 and 2017, the official total was 219,000.
Anecdotally, though, the Eastern
wild turkey seems pretty scarce here, despite a second trap-and-transfer effort that relocated 515 birds 16 years ago. “The Southeastern part of the state is too broken in landscape and habitat because of development, industry and agriculture, which limits the birds’ ability to emigrate,” says Casalena. “There were viable areas, but flocks weren’t getting there on their
West Bradford and Paradise Valley Nature Area in East Bradford and Caln townships. That’s 600 acres, and not one sighting.
State game warden and wildlife conser- vationist Keith Mullin, who oversees the southern half of Chester County, partici- pated in the most recent turkey release, which involved three Brandywine Valley locations: Wolf’s Hollow, the Laurels and Octoraro Lake. “Opening day of the last buck season, I broke up a [turkey] flock just outside Parkesburg, five miles east of the Wolf’s Hollow release site,
so they’re out there and reproducing,” he says. “The point of the program is
to speed up the natural dispersal of the population. The goal is to allow hunting in all available seasons.”
Chester County’s last open fall turkey- hunting season was in 2000. Eliminating it helps save hens for nesting the following spring, so hunting can begin the Saturday closest to May 1, lasting all month except for Sundays.
Shaw, for one, isn’t convinced that the repopulation effort is working. “If the state puts 10 birds out there, it’s still the same 10 birds,” he says. “The land is too open. There are just not enough long, large woodlots to give the protection and shelter turkeys need. While farmers are growing corn, their harvesting techniques leave nothing in the field.
“Young birds also need insects as protein to grow feathers. But farmers spray, so there are no bugs.”
Right now, foxhunters don’t have to worry about a fall turkey season ruining
 140 THE HUNT MAGAZINE
sprING 2019
their fun. But if open land is managed for a higher fox population, those predators could be detrimental to the wild turkey. Then again, so are raccoons, possum, hawks, owls and coyotes. “They don’t have an easy road of it,” says Mullin.
And pen-fed wild turkeys aren’t a
viable option. Once raised in captivity,
any animal loses its wariness, creating a nuisance—one that can be aggressive, especially during mating season. Dominant males have been known to chase mailmen and children or roost overnight on a car, looking to be fed in the morning. “They may look like wild birds, but they won’t












































































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