Turkey hunting has grown over the last two decades in BC as populations of the wild turkey have increased. GOS hunt opportunities currently exist in Regions 4 and 8. Some hunters are specializing in turkey hunting (i.e., purchasing equipment specific to turkey hunting) and are travelling to these regions to experience a BC turkey hunt. BC contains the Merriam’s subspecies of wild turkey, one of 5 subspecies in North America. BC is the most northerly extent of the species in North America. BC is one of the only jurisdictions in North America without a tag for wild turkey.
The wild turkey is endemic to North America and date back 2 to 3 million years. They have been re-introduced and introduced into almost every ecosystem in North America. Wild turkey in BC is a non-native the same as partridge, pheasant, quail, rainbow trout in Region 4 and the plains-domestic hybrid bison in Northern BC. The science shows that wild turkey is not invasive nor are they a threat to native flora and fauna or the health of domestic livestock or poultry. Creating a species tag will not change the ecology of the wild turkey. Wild turkey is native to Idaho which is where BC’s population immigrated from. In the 80’s, turkeys were moved by F&W from Creston to Ft. Steele as conflict reduction for dairy farmers.
With a new species tag, non-resident hunters will require a non-resident tag and will need to utilize a BC resident hunt companion or Guide-Outfitter. This will alleviate the conflict that is currently escalating between residents and non-residents during the spring GOS season.
Currently BC has a spring, fall and December LEH season for wild turkey, a 2-bird regional bag limit and bearded only restrictions in the spring. Without a tag Conservation Officers have more of a challenge to verify that a hunter has not exceed these bag limit restrictions. A species tag, like all other game species with a tag, will help with enforcement. A species tag will convey the message that hunting in BC, regardless of the game species, is a lawful practice strictly controlled by regulation. This is important for social license. A species tag for wild turkeys is supported by biologists in both region 4 and 8, and by the BC Conservation Officer Service.
The creation of a tag could re-open the door to engaging the National Wild Turkey Federation in BC which might allow for support for turkey-human conflict resolution. A species tag will also generate additional surcharge dollars for the HCTF and provide data on hunter numbers and harvest.
Credit: The Wildlife Committee
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For more information on wild turkeys and wild turkey hunting:
The Hunter Conservationist Podcast: The Story of Canada’s Wild Turkeys https://thehunterconservationist.com/podcast/episode-20-the-story-of-canadas-wild-turkeys/
The Meat Eater Podcast: Gobbling Your Ass Off: https://www.themeateater.com/listen/meateater/ep-214-gobbling-your-ass-off