Ohio hunters checked 17,793 wild turkeys during the combined 2016 spring wild turkey hunting season and youth wild turkey hunting season, April 16-May 15, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Hunters checked 16,229 birds during the four weeks of the 2016 wild turkey season compared to 16,049 birds in 2015. Young hunters checked 1,564 birds during the 2016 youth season compared to 1,589 in 2015. Locally, it appears that the bird harvest was nearly identical as last year for all the surrounding counties.
Ohio’s 2016 spring wild turkey season was open April 18 through May 15. Youth season was April 16-17. Find more information about wild turkey hunting at wildohio.gov. Wild turkeys were extirpated in Ohio by 1904 and were reintroduced in the 1950s by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Ohio’s first modern day wild turkey season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The wild turkey harvest topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. Spring turkey hunting opened statewide in 2000, and Ohio hunters checked more than 20,000 wild turkeys for the first time that year.
• The spring season has arrived, offering many opportunities for Ohioans to help protect young wildlife. Each year, ODNR officials offer this simple advice: enjoy wildlife from a distance, and leave young animals alone. Wild animals are born to live their lives in the wild, and sometimes good intentions can hurt their chances of survival.
A young wild animal’s best chance for survival is with its mother. Most wildlife taken in by people do not survive, except when handled by specially-trained personnel. In many cases, a young animal collected by a person was not lost or abandoned, but was simply waiting for a parent to return.
Many adult wild animals will leave their young alone while they forage for food or to divert the attention of predators away from their vulnerable young, especially during the daylight hours. In the case of white-tailed deer, a doe will hide her young from predators by leaving it alone in a secluded spot, such as a grassy meadow or a flower bed. A hidden fawn has virtually no scent, and when the fawn is left alone, it is difficult for predators to find. The doe is usually nearby and will tend to the fawn during the night.
Baby birds that have fallen from their nests are one of the most common wildlife species that are removed by humans from the wild. Contrary to popular belief, human scent will not prevent the parents from returning to care for their young. Individuals should return the baby birds back in their nests and then walk away so the parents can continue to feed the birds without fear of humans.
If individuals find a young animal that is visibly injured or clearly in severe distress and may need assistance, visit wildohio.gov/staywild before taking any action. Specific information for commonly encountered wildlife is available to help guide people on how to best help the wild animal.
State and federal laws protect and regulate wildlife in Ohio, and only specially trained and licensed wildlife rehabilitators, with special permits issued by the ODNR Division of Wildlife, may possess and care for native wild animals. These laws are in place for the benefit of humans as well as wild animals.
To further protect young and vulnerable wild animals, keep pets under control so they do not raid nests or injure wild animals. Also, remember to keep pets inoculated against parasites and diseases before venturing out this spring.
Always check for nests before cutting down trees or clearing brush. It is best to cut trees and clear brush in the autumn when nesting season is over. Teach children to respect wildlife and their habitat, observing wildlife from a distance.
Contact a local wildlife official before taking action. Call 800-WILDLIFE (800-945-3543) or visit wildohio.gov/staywild to connect with the proper individuals and to read about species-specific guidance. Human intervention is always a wild animal’s last hope for survival, never its best hope.
• An adult Learn to Hunt workshop is being offered beginning Wednesday, June 1, 2016, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The first workshop in the series will be held at the ODNR Division of Wildlife District One office, 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus Ohio 43215, from 6 to 9 p.m. This program is for adults that are interesting in hunting and would like to know how to get started.
Representatives from the ODNR Division of Wildlife will educate participates in hunter education, shotgun proficiency and upon successful completion of the program participants will have the opportunity to attend a controlled hunt.
Pre-registration is required as seating is limited. Participants must be at least 18 years old. To find out more about the program or to register for this workshop series contact Karen Norris at 614-902-4197 or Karen.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hunting is highly regulated, which helps make it a safe, sustainable, and a popular activity. The sale of hunting licenses, permits and stamps provides much-needed funds to wildlife research and management programs. For more information on hunting and other outdoor opportunities, visit the ODNR Division of Wildlife website at wildohio.gov.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.