Wild turkey population declines in Mississippi

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A gradual decline in the wild turkey population in Mississippi has garnered national attention from the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
Although there is no concrete answer as to why there is a decrease in the population, Scott Baker, MDWFP wildlife biologist, said it could be due to several reasons.
“The turkey population in Mississippi peaked in the 80s and has dropped substantially ever since, but those numbers back then were very high,” Baker said, adding that the decline of turkeys is not an alarming phenomenon. Instead, the population is going back to what he calls “the new norm.”
Other scenarios for the decline in population include property changes, environmental changes due to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the decrease in trapping of other animals in the state.
“There used to be a lot more trapping of predators like raccoons and things like that, but now you don’t see as much of it, which could result in more turkeys being hunted,” he said.
To keep the turkey population from being threatened, Billy Deviney, Chairman of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks said in a MDWFP news release that sportsmen need to engage in active management of the habitat and predator populations.
“I believe if every turkey hunter does their part, we can double Mississippi’s turkey population,” Deviney said in the release.
Baker said there are a couple of places people can hunt turkey around Pearl River County, but only one place inside of the county—near the Pearl River and Lamar county lines, off the Wolf River. Other nearby hunting grounds include the De Soto National Forest and a wildlife management area in Marion County, just south of Columbia, Baker said.
This year, hunters will be encouraged to register their harvests online, states the release, by voluntary harvest reporting for the spring hunting season. This information will help track and navigate turkey flocks across Mississippi.
The spring hunting season is from March 15 through May 1. The bag limit this season for turkeys is one adult gobbler or one gobbler with a six-inch or longer beard per day and three per spring season, states the MDWFP.
For more information on wild turkeys, call the MDWFP at 601-432-2199.

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