Turkey hunters set record for spring season

Sunday, May 16, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Hunters killed a record-setting 60,151 turkeys during Missouri's three-week spring turkey season.

The total topped last spring's total by 1,730 and is likely to keep Missouri as the nation's leading turkey-hunting state, the Department of Conservation said Friday.

The total includes 3,269 turkeys killed by young hunters during the two-day youth hunting season April 10-11.

The spring season ran from April 19 through May 9.

Franklin County led the way with 1,099 birds killed. Laclede County was second with 1,071, followed by Howell County with 985.

On a regional basis, the 15-county northeast Missouri area reported the most turkeys killed with 9,080. Northwest Missouri was second with 8,751 and central Missouri reported 8,407.

Jeff Beringer, a scientist with the Department of Conservation, said the state's turkey harvest is unlikely to increase much in future years.

"Our turkey habitat is near its carrying capacity now," he said. "The proportion of young birds has decreased in recent years, which is evidence that the population is stabilizing."

The department reported nine turkey-hunting accidents this year, including one fatality. One accident is being investigated to determine whether it was related to turkey hunting.

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