WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

April 13, 2005
Contact: Mick Cope, (360) 902-2691

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Draft wild turkey management plan available for public comment

OLYMPIA – With the number of wild turkey and turkey hunters in Washington state both on the rise, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public comment on a plan to manage bird populations for recreational opportunities in the future.

The department has published a comprehensive draft wild turkey management plan that is now available for public review and comment. The draft plan, at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/turkey/management/ on the Internet, outlines potential actions for managing wild turkey populations across the state.

The draft plan is also available at WDFW’s headquarters in Olympia. To obtain a printed copy of the report, telephone (360) 902-2515; or send an E-mail request that includes the recipient’s mailing address to wildthing@dfw.wa.gov.

Comments on the plan will be accepted through May 11, and can be sent via e-mail to wildthing@dfw.wa.gov or through U.S. mail addressed to Upland Game Section Manager, Washington Dept of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N, Olympia WA 98501-1091.

Proposed management actions in the draft plan include:

  • Conducting annual winter wild turkey surveys in eastern Washington to identify population trends
  • Implementing habitat improvement projects in conjunction with other state or federal agencies and non-governmental organizations
  • Improving access for turkey hunters
  • Conducting wild turkey population management activities.

Washington has three turkey subspecies, all of which are non-native and have been introduced within the past 45 years to provide recreational opportunities. Eastern turkeys can be found in southwestern Washington; Merriam’s turkeys live along the eastern slope of the Cascade Range and in northeastern Washington; and Rio Grande turkeys are found primarily in the southeastern corner of the state.

The number of turkey hunters in Washington has increased from 689 in 1984 to more than 15,000 in 2004. Wild turkeys are also popular with bird watchers and wildlife photographers.

The number of turkeys taken by hunters has also increased dramatically. Fewer than 500 birds were taken annually through the early 1990s; nearly 4,500 turkeys were harvested in Washington in 2003.

At the conclusion of the public comment period, WDFW will begin development of a final draft wild turkey management plan through the State Environmental Policy Act process, which includes opportunities for additional public comment.