This month the temperatures are warming up spring is in full effect. April is a good time to get out and enjoy all that nature brings us, all the birds singing and wildlife scurrying around. The wildlife that you see are plentiful. All kinds of birds, squirrels, lizards, snakes, deer and their babies. Among these animals you see there are Eastern Wild Turkeys. These turkeys flourish here in Missouri in numbers around 84,000 witch was recorded in a survey taken by Jason L. Isabelle – Resource Scientist of the Missouri Department of Conservation in September. Now these seem like a pretty high number of turkeys and it certainly is for Eastern Turkeys that live among us here in Missouri now days. Believe it or not the turkeys that live in missouri was almost killed to extinction. This essay will start with the history of the Conservation of Wild Turkeys here in Missouri.Starting in the early 1900’s the Turkey’s of Missouri was rapidly decreasing to numbers as few as 3,000 turkeys due to unregulated hunting and habitat destruction.
The hunting of our wild turkeys came to a hullt in 1937. The conservation department decided to do something about it and try to get the numbers of our native turkeys back up. The MDC tried many different approaches to try and bring the numbers up like introducing game farm birds into the wild with what turkeys we had left. This effort had not helped due to game farm turkeys not being able to survive in the wild. Only the wild turkeys can outwit some of the predators and be able to withstand the environment of Missouri. The efforts did not stop there the MDC developed a cannon net that would be used to catch parts of the flocks of turkey’s that where tucked in the woods of 14 counties of the remote ozarks of Missouri. In 1954 the conservation started taking the turkey’s that was caught by the cannon nets and released over 2,600 turkeys to 142 acars in 87 counties, with the help of private landowners that helped with building habitats that attract the turkeys. By the 1960’s the population of the
Wild Turkey of Missouriturkeys in Missouri doubled. The conservation then opened up the first 3 day spring turkey season where only 14 counties where open to the season and only 94 turkeys was killed. With the numbers of turkeys growing rapidly throughout the 60’s and into the 70’s this begin to attract more hunters. By 1978 the Conservation kicked off a Fall season for hunters that did not want to wait for spring or hunters who wanted to harvest a bird for the holiday season. During the peak times in 1986-1989 the numbers of turkeys in missouri reached nearly a whopping 1 million the conservation then established a 3 week long spring turkey hunt witch hunters across missouri would kill anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 turkeys during that time period.All hunters that hunt during spring seasons can only harvest turkeys with beards witch are either Mature Gobblers called Toms, Juveniles called Jakes, or Females also called Hens that have beards witch is a rare sight. The reason for only harvesting turkeys witch have beards is that spring is the mating season.
All hunters are to be out of the woods by 1pm during the spring season to give the Hens that have been breed a chance to lay their eggs and sit on the nest without being bothered by hunters. If a hunter harvests a female turkey with a beard they will not get in trouble by the conservation because it states in Missouri turkey hunting regulations that the turkey must have a beard that is visible. The Fall portion of turkey season a hunter can harvest either Toms, Jakes, and Hens because the babies the Hens had during spring are old enough to survive on their own. Turkey hunters today are allowed to harvest two turkeys during spring and fall season. In 2018 the number of turkeys that were taken during the spring and fall season adds up to a combined total of 40,562 turkeys.Going through the history of the turkey’s of Missouri and how the conservation brought the numbers back up from near extinction to being able to have two seasons to hunt and hunters harvesting from 94 turkeys in 1960 to over 40,000 in 2018 shows that conservation indeed works
Wild Turkey of Missouriand can both help a population grow and be able to regulate the population to keep it from over populating. Out of the information I have shared I hope to bring a little understanding why the MDC does what they do and why they have regulations and why they open hunting seasons up on the different wildlife we have here in Missouri. If you all want to learn more about the Missouri Department of Conservation or the history of the organization or places you can see the wildlife of Missouri and be able to study about them you can go online to this website to find anything from conservation areas around Missouri to learn or be able to go outdoors and experience the amazing things Missouri has to offer.
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