Kansas Cancels Fall Turkey Tradition. This year, Kansas won’t have a fall turkey hunting season for the first time in history. The closure was just announced by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) owing to the state’s diminishing wild turkey population.
Falling Turkey Statistics for 15 Years
According to KDWP scientists, wild turkey populations in Kansas have been steadily declining over the last 15 years. Low reproduction rates, which are resulting in fewer turkeys living to maturity, are thought to be the primary reason.
According to Kent Fricke, small game biologist with KDWP, “we’ve documented consistent declines in turkey populations over the last 15 years, largely due to reduced production levels.” “Kansas is not the only state with these patterns. Similar trends in turkey population growth have been seen in states in the Southeast and Midwest.
Why Are Turkeys Declining?
The precise reason why fewer turkey poults (chicks) are maturing in Kansas is still a mystery to researchers. Investigated motives could be because of:
- Loss of quality habitat from development and urbanization
- Extreme weather events like drought and flooding
- Declining nutrition from habitat changes
According to Fricke, a variety of variables presumably have varied effects on reproduction. We are doing studies into the ecology of wild turkeys in an effort to identify the root reasons.
Kansas Fall Turkey Harvest Stats
Potential Reasons for Turkey Population Decline
|Development, urbanization impacting forests
|Droughts and flooding affecting reproduction
|Potential illness reducing survival rates
|More predators like coyotes
|Changes in food sources like crops
For the first time ever, there will be no fall hunting season
Although turkey hunters tend to participate more during the spring season, KDWP biologists believe the fall hunt is still a crucial element of controlling the state’s turkey population.
“Less than 500 birds were harvested statewide in the fall of 2022, according to estimates. Even while it only makes up a tiny fraction of the state’s population, the fall harvest adds to the mortality of turkeys, particularly when hens are removed, according to Fricke.
Kansas tried to lessen the effect of fall hunting in previous years by reducing bag limits from four turkeys per hunter to only one in 2017. Additionally, the season was cut from 123 days to only 41 days in 2019.
But since populations are continually declining, KDWP eventually suggested that the season be completely canceled this year for the first time ever. The Commission decided to endorse this historic choice.
Impact on Kansas Tourism
Each year, hundreds of hunters from other states go to Kansas to go turkey hunting, bringing in significant tourist money, particularly in rural regions. Businesses that cater to traveling hunters will undoubtedly be impacted by the loss of the fall season.
“We are aware that this choice will have an impact on local communities and small companies who profit from fall hunting tourism. We cannot, however, disregard the biology of the species, added Fricke.
Could Fall Season Return in the Future?
If populations recover, wildlife authorities express optimism that the fall turkey season may resume in the future. KDWP will keep up its management efforts in the meantime to identify and address the causes of the diminishing turkey population throughout Kansas.
Over the last 20 years, we have gathered a ton of data on turkey populations. We’ll be studying this closely to look for trends that might guide future management choices, according to Fricke.
In order to learn more about the life cycle, habitat usage, and stresses affecting wild turkeys in Kansas, KDWP has announced the launch of a significant study project on the subject that will run through 2024.
Visit the KDWP turkey hunting rules website at https://ksoutdoors.com/Hunting/Hunting-rules/Turkey for the latest information on the condition of the state’s wild turkey populations and the prospective reintroduction of a fall hunting season.
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