Turkey numbers close to last year’s total
Hunters checked 17,647 wild turkeys during Ohio’s four-week statewide spring turkey hunting season that ended May 15, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
The preliminary total represents a three percent decrease over last year’s harvest number of 18,162. Ashtabula County again led the state in the number of turkeys killed with 762. Counties with additional high harvest numbers were: Tuscarawas-531, Guernsey-495, Coshocton-492, Muskingum-486, Belmont-456, Knox-451, Harrison-450, Trumbull-428 and Adams-420.
Locally, all the area counties were within a few birds of last year’s harvest with the exception of Knox County being down 47 birds.
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 180,000 birds.
Wild turkeys were nearly eliminated 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 not valid during the 2012 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.
• Good news for young duck hunters comes from the Division of Wildlife. For the first time, a waterfowl hunt for youths 15 years and younger will take place at the 600-acre refuge in Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area. A local drawing will take place in September. More information will be provided later this summer once the drawing date is established. For more information call Wildlife District Three, Wildlife Management Section at 330–644-2293.
• In 2011, approximately 38 different black bears were confirmed in the Buckeye State according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. While the population of Ohio’s largest mammal, a state endangered species, may not exactly increase in 2012, sightings of the burly creatures are expected to rise in the summer months.
Starting in May and continuing through August, young male black bears disperse on a quest to find their own territory. Scott Peters, wildlife management supervisor for northeast Ohio explained, “Dispersal occurs annually when an adult female bear (referred to as a sow) boots her one-and-a-half year old cubs out of the family unit so she can breed and raise a new litter of cubs.” Young females have smaller ranges and seldom venture as far as males to establish territories.
The Division of Wildlife estimates the Buckeye bear population at about 60 black bears living in Ohio year round. During 2011, a total of 152 reported sightings of black bears occurred in 32 Ohio counties. Most sightings occurred in northeast and southeast Ohio. In northeast Ohio specifically, a total 97 sightings were reported in 13 counties. Biologists estimate the sightings to be of 26 different black bears. Geauga County led the state with 22 sightings followed closely by Ashtabula County with 20 reported sightings.
Every year, many bear reports in Ohio are associated with nuisance situations. Once people become “beareducated” conflicts with bears often diminish. Moving bird feeders higher, keeping trash inside until pick up day, and cleaning up after grilling out all help to deter bears from becoming nuisances.
Efforts to monitor the Ohio black bear have been supported by the Wildlife Diversity and Endangered Species fund, which receives donations from Ohioans through the state income tax check-off program and by the purchases of cardinal license plates and Wildlife Legacy Stamps. The black bear is protected by state law.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!