MDC reports nearly 7,000 fewer turkeys harvested this season

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In this Monday, May 4, 2020 photo, a wild turkey crosses a field in Freeport, Maine. States around the country are encouraging hunters to hunt turkeys this spring despite social distancing rules. The hunt will look different than usual because of concerns about the virus. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The 2021 spring turkey hunting season ended Sunday, and the number of birds harvested are thousands less than what was harvested during the 2020 season.

Preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) said 31,798 birds were checked during the season.

The season went from April 19 to May 9.

Hunters in Franklin County harvested the most birds in the state with 710 birds telechecked. Texas County had 666, and Callaway County had 639 birds telechecked.

Youth weekend was on April 10 and April 11. The young hunters harvested 2,795 birds. This brings the spring total to 34,593.

The 2020 harvest included 2,724 birds from youth hunters and 38,734 during the regular season, bringing the 2020 spring season total to 41,458 birds.

“Spring turkey harvest was down this year, which can partially be explained by a decline in hunting participation,” said MDC Turkey Biologist Reina Tyl. “Last year we saw a big increase in the number of permits sold and there was a subsequent increase in turkey harvest. This year, the permit sales total was closer to what was observed before the 2020 season. When turkey hunting participation declines, we expect to see a subsequent decline in turkey harvest.”

There was one non-fatal hunting incident during the 2021 spring turkey season.

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