Richmond, VA-- The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) announced that preliminary figures for the 2001 spring gobbler season indicate a record number of turkeys harvested. In all, 18,240 turkeys were harvested statewide, 24 percent more than last year^s total of 14,696.
The harvest figure for counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains increased 19 percent over last year^s harvest, from 9,522 birds to 11,331. West of the Blue Ridge, counties reported 6,909 gobblers harvested a 34 percent increase over last year^s figure of 5,174.
Weather can affect gobbling and subsequent hunter success. In 2001, spring gobbler hunters enjoyed favorable conditions, particularly on the weekends. Reproduction rates, which tend to vary by year, also affect the growth of turkey populations. The shorter fall season framework adopted in 1995 has increased survival rates and carry-over of females, which has helped sustain population growth.
According to Department Director Bill Woodfin, "These numbers affirm the management decisions made by our professional wildlife staff in our efforts to increase the wild turkey population in Virginia."
Department biologists estimate the statewide turkey population to be approximately 180,000 birds. The top 10 counties for total spring gobbler harvest in 2001 were Bedford (677), Pittslyvania (577), Franklin (564), Scott (426), Grayson (409), Halifax (404), Botetourt (367), Bath (357), Alleghany (320), and Carroll (314).