PRATT – Beginning this fall, Kansas will have no fall turkey hunting season due to declining populations at state and regional levels. The difficult decision was arrived at by members of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission after hearing compelling recommendations from staff over the course of four public meetings.
“We’ve documented consistent declines in turkey populations over the last 15 years largely due to reduced production levels,” said Kent Fricke, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks small game biologist. “These trends are not unique to Kansas. States across the Midwest and Southeast have experienced similar patterns in turkey populations.”
Though far fewer turkey hunters participate in the fall season than in the spring in Kansas, wildlife biologists said it remained an important component of overall harvest.
“The estimated statewide fall harvest of turkey was less than 500 birds in 2022,” said Fricke. “While this is a small proportion of the statewide population, fall harvest is an additive source of mortality for turkeys, especially when hens are harvested.”
Over the past several years, Commissioners have approved other preventative recommendations to reduce the impact of the fall season on turkey populations. In 2017, Commissioners voted to reduce the statewide bag limit from four birds to one bird. In 2019, fall turkey season dates were reduced from Oct. 1 through Jan. 31 (123 days) to Oct. 1 through Nov. 10 (41 days).
But not all is lost. Staff continue working diligently to obtain as much data as possible in hopes of one day reversing declining population trends. One such example is a new research project set to begin in Kansas in January 2024 to examine wild turkey populations and ecology to inform state harvest and habitat management (more HERE).
To learn more about turkey hunting in Kansas – including Kansas’ all-new lottery draw for non-resident turkey permits and other regulation changes aimed at population conservation – visit ksoutdoors.com/Hunting then select “Turkey.”