WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas Wildlife and Parks says turkey hunting season has been suspended due to declining turkey populations at state and regional levels.
The Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission made the decision after 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,” Kent Fricke, KDWP small game biologist, said in a news release. “These trends are not unique to Kansas. States across the Midwest and Southeast have experienced similar patterns in turkey populations.”
Though fewer turkey hunters participate in the fall season than in the spring in Kansas, wildlife biologists said it remained an important component of the overall harvest.
“The estimated statewide fall harvest of turkey was less than 500 birds in 2022,” Fricke said. “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 123 days (Oct. 1 through Jan. 31) to 41 days (Oct. 1 through Nov. 10).
Turkey hunters throughout Kansas told KSN that they support the decision.
Trevor Olsen has been hunting turkeys his entire life. He helps lead turkey hunting trips in Central Kansas. The Kansas Trophy Experience out of Great Bend leads about 30 to 40 turkey hunting groups in the spring season, but they do not do any in the fall.
The hope is that having no fall hunting season this year will lead to more hens surviving and having chicks in the spring.
“We want to see our kids and their kids be able to experience the same things we’ve been fortunate enough to experience,” said Olsen.
KDWP is partnering with Kansas State University researchers for their Kansas Turkey Research Project. The project is funded by a restoration act that takes money from taxes on firearms and goods like hunting equipment. The goal of the project is to better understand issues regarding turkey habitats.