Posts Tagged ‘Turkeys’

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Hunting, Fishing, Trapping Licenses on Sale

The 2010-2011 hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses and Deer Management Permits (DMPs) are now being sold by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

New Regulations for 2010-2011

Hunters and trappers should be aware of several new regulations in effect for 2010-2011. Air guns may now be used for hunting small game. Pheasant hunting areas and seasons have been modified. The Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) containment area has been decommissioned, and hunters in that area are no longer required to have their deer checked for CWD. Several trapping regulation changes have been made, including elimination of the requirement of furbearer possession tags and pelt sealing for beaver. More details for each of these changes are available in the 2010-2011 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide.

Licenses and permits can be purchased at one of DEC’s 1,500 license sales outlets statewide. Sporting licenses can also be ordered by mail or by telephone and via the internet. Sporting licenses are valid beginning Oct. 1 – Sept. 30, 2011.

The Automated Licensing System (DECALS) is the State’s program for issuing sporting licenses and tracking license sales and revenues. For questions regarding license purchases, call the DECALS Call Center at (1-866-933-2257). Hours of operation for the Call Center are 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday from Aug. 16 – Oct. 16, 2010. Regular weekday hours of 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. will resume on Oct. 18, 2010.

License buyers should have the following items ready when applying: complete name and address information, customer ID number if you have it, proof of residency information (driver’s license number or non-driver’s ID number to qualify for a resident license), and, if purchasing by phone or internet, credit card and card expiration date. Hunting license purchases require individuals to provide proof of hunting education certification or a copy of a previous license, or this information must already be contained in their DECALS file.

Sales of all sporting licenses are deposited into the Conservation Fund (the fund’s Advisory Board meets today in Lowville) which is used for the management of New York’s fish and wildlife populations and for protection and management of wildlife habitat.

Deer Management Permits

DEC issues Deer Management Permits (DMPs), often called “doe tags,” to move the population closer toward objective levels in each Wildlife Management Unit. The target DMP allocation for 2010 varies by unit, but outside of the Adirondack Park and the Tug Hill Plateau, only WMUs 3A, 4L, 4U, 4Z and 5T will be closed for DMPs in 2010. Applicants are reminded that DMPs are only valid for antlerless deer in the WMU specified on the permit.

DMPs will be available at all license issuing outlets and by phone, internet or mail, from Aug.16, 2010 through close of business Oct. 1, 2010. DMPs are issued through a random selection process at the point of sale, and customers who are selected for DMPs will receive their permits immediately. Chances of selection in each WMU are available at License Issuing Agent locations, or you may call the DMP Hotline at 1-866-472-4332. Chances of getting a DMP remain the same throughout the application period, so hunters do not need to rush to apply for a DMP on the first day of sale.

If a significant number of DMPs are still available in a WMU after Oct. 1, leftover DMP sales will commence on Nov. 1 and will continue on a first-come/first-serve basis until the end of the hunting season or until all DMPs have been issued in the WMU. Additionally, bonus DMPs will be available in the bowhunting-only WMUs 3S, 4J, and 8C and in Suffolk County (WMU 1C).

Fish and Wildlife Supporters

DEC encourages all outdoor enthusiasts to consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp and/or a Trail Supporter Patch. These stamps and patches help support the DEC’s efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation and maintain non-motorized trails. Buying a $5 stamp or patch or donating directly to the Conservation Fund is a way to help conserve New York’s wildlife heritage and enhance outdoor recreation in New York State.

Venison Donation Program

Additionally, anyone – not just hunters and anglers – can help feed the hungry by contributing to the Venison Donation Program at all license issuing outlets. Individuals should inform the license sales agent that they want to make a donation of $1 or more to support the program.

Participate in Citizen Science to Benefit Wildlife Management

Each year, thousands of hunters, trappers, and anglers help DEC monitor wildlife populations by recording their wildlife observations while afield. To learn about how you can participate in the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log, Bowhunter Sighting Log, Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey and other citizen science programs.


Monday, August 2, 2010

DEC Seeks Turkey Survey Volunteers

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is encouraging New Yorkers to participate in the Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey, which kicks off in August.

Since 1996, DEC has conducted the Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey to estimate the average number of wild turkey poults (young of the year) per hen statewide and among major geographic regions of the state. This index allows DEC to gauge turkey populations and enables wildlife managers to predict fall harvest potential. Weather, predation and habitat conditions during the breeding and brood-rearing seasons can all significantly impact nest success, hen survival, and poult survival.

During the month of August, survey participants record the sex and age composition of all flocks of wild turkeys observed during normal travel. Those who want to participate can download a Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey form from the DEC website to record your observations. Detailed instructions can be found with the data sheet. Survey cards can also be obtained by contacting your regional DEC office, by calling (518) 402-8886, or by e-mailing fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us (type “Turkey Survey” in the subject line).

On the DEC website:

Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey

Citizen Science Initiatives

DEC Regional Office Contact Information


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dinosaurs in the Adirondacks – The Wild Turkey

Anyone who doesn’t believe that birds are the descendants of dinosaurs needs only one look at a running turkey to have a change of heart. This winter a female turkey has made my back yard a daily stop in her travels, and let me tell you: there are few things in life so prehistoric-looking than a turkey going full tilt trying to escape your camera lens.

The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is one of two species of turkeys in the world. The other is a denizen of Central America and as such is of little importance to us here in the Adirondacks. No, we are concerned with our own native bird, the one of such character and pride that Ben Franklin thought it should be the symbol of our country.

When Europeans first descended upon the eastern shores of North America, turkeys ruled the roost, so to speak. Millions of them populated the woodlands, providing food for man and beast alike. But, as is the habit of mankind, forests were cut and turkeys were eaten. As early as 1672 keen observers of nature were already remarking that turkey populations were not what they once had been. In 1844, the last wild turkey in New York was reported in the extreme southwestern part of the state; after that, they were gone.

For years nothing was done to rectify the state of things, turkey-wise. By the turn of the century (c. 1900), approximately 75% of New York had been cleared, agriculture and development dominating where once forests grew. Without healthy forests, turkeys could not survive (hard mast, such as acorns and beechnuts, is a major part of their diet). As the century plodded along, however, many farmers left home, moving to the cities where jobs were more likely to be had. Old farmland began to revert to forests, and slowly turkeys started to come back, making their way northward from Pennsylvania. By the 1940s, the southwestern part of the state was once more populated with these large bronze birds.

To help things along, New York State converted a central New York pheasant hatchery into a turkey hatchery in 1952. Over the next several years, thousands of turkeys were released into the wild. Sadly, this operation was doomed to failure. Speculation was that the released birds were too tame and therefore lacked the brains to escape (or fight) predators. It was also thought that their natural reproduction was too low to sustain a viable population. So the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) went to Plan B: capture wild turkeys and relocate them.

This new plan began in 1959 and saw New York’s wild turkey population successfully soar from about 2000 birds to over 65,000 by 1990. The relocation program was so successful that the DEC started shipping birds to neighboring states to help them reestablish their own dwindling populations.

I saw my first wild turkey in the early ‘80s out at Letchworth State Park. There were two or three of them, and they flew up into a tree along the edge of a small ravine. Prior to this I never would’ve guessed that turkeys could fly. Three years later, a friend of mine shot a turkey and decided we should give it to my mother for Mother’s Day; so he and I and all my roommates drove to my parents’ house with the turkey in tow. It barely fit in the oven, but it was a mighty tasty bird. Ten years later, turkeys were all over the farm fields back home: whole herds of them marching along the rows of cut corn. (And yes, I use the word “herd” intentionally, for when they are walking along the ground en masse, they are definitely a herd.)

Back in the ‘80s it was believed by biologists that turkeys wouldn’t be able to survive the harsh winters the Adirondacks can dish out. Imagine their surprise when turkeys not only moved into the mountains, but thrived! Hardly a week goes by all year that I don’t see a turkey or two, or ten. Sometimes they lurk along the roadsides, picking up grit or maybe hunting insects; other times they are strutting across a neighbor’s yard.

A couple years ago, I came across a hen and her poults hiding in the shrubbery between the second and fourth holes on the local golf course. I was walking the dog, and of course he started barking, so the hen took off, dashing away into the trees with most of her progeny in hot pursuit. Two, however, were left behind. I sat the dog down and we waited. And waited. One of the poults peeped and trotted off after the long-gone parent, but the other remained behind, peeping its distress. Even though I knew better, the pitiful cries got to me and I finally decided to go “rescue” the thing. My plan was to carry it to the patch of woods in which its mother had disappeared and set it down where she could get to it without having to come near me and the dog. Big mistake. No sooner had I picked up the ungrateful bird then it let out a squawking and wailing that brought the mother running and flapping from the woods. A velociraptor had nothing on her. Fearing for my safety (I’ve heard tales of the damage a turkey can do with its spurs), I dropped the poult, snagged the dog’s leash, and we high-tailed it out of there. That was the last time I tried to help a “stranded” wildlife baby.

And just in case you needed further convincing that turkeys are dinosaurs in disguise, watch a herd of them come trotting across a lawn or field when the early morning fog is lying close to the ground. All you need is to cue up the music and you are staring at a living tableau from Jurassic Park. Add a rock wall for them to jump on, and the scene is complete.

It was -7 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, but I don’t think the local turkeys were much fazed by this. Indeed, I think they are here to stay, and that’s a nice thing, for every patch of wilderness should have its resident dinosaurs, and for us the wild turkey fills the bill nicely.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One Adirondack Turkey Gives Thanks

This is George, a turkey who lives down the hill. She’s so cute and sociable she’s been granted a Thanksgiving reprieve. She was hatched this summer in Standish and brought to Saranac Lake by a family who intended to fatten her up for a November feast. George endeared herself so much that she’s the one who’ll be feasting.

She lives with eight peacocks and probably thinks she is one. Have a happy Thanksgiving, George.


Friday, January 9, 2009

NY Birds Experiencing Dramatic Changes

A new atlas on the birds of New York reveals that during the past two decades over half of New York State’s bird populations have seen dramatic changes in their distributions, with 70 species experiencing significant increases, 58 species experiencing serious declines, and 125 species maintaining relative stability. Among the birds showing the largest increases in New York State are Canada Goose, Wild Turkey, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Wren, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, Cooper’s Hawk, Bald Eagle, Common Raven, Turkey Vulture, and Merlin. Those showing the largest decreases are Henslow’s Sparrow, Red-headed Woodpecker, Brown Thrasher, Common Nighthawk, Purple Martin, and Canada Warbler. Resident woodland birds showed the greatest increases as a group, and grassland birds showed the greatest declines.

These new findings, published this month by Cornell University Press in The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State, are the result of over 140,000 hours in the field by nearly 1,200 volunteers across New York State. The atlas, edited by two prominent figures in the field, ornithologist Kevin J. McGowan of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and wildlife biologist Kimberley Corwin of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), was initiated by the New York State Ornithological Association and implemented by the NYSDEC, which provided the funding, management personnel, oversight, direction, and data capture and management. The majority of the funding came from the state tax check-off program, “Return a Gift to Wildlife.”

According to the new study New Yorkers have considerably helped bird populations by planting trees and shrubs that provide food and cover, supporting conservation organizations, and participating in cutting-edge programs such as the Landowner Incentive Program.

The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State will be an invaluable resource for the DEC and other state agencies involved in land management and conservation, as well as counties and towns who make management decisions on smaller scales. Data will also be used at the national level by federal agencies, non-governmental agencies such as the NY Natural Heritage Program and Audubon, as well as universities across the country.