October 3, 2013

With turkey numbers soaring, Maine lets hunters bag two

Nonexistent in Maine 26 years ago, the turkey population has increased to an estimated 60,000 birds, and some people think that’s too much of a good thing.

By Clarke Canfield
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this 2002 photo, a trio of turkeys takes to the air to avoid an oncoming motorist in Freeport. The state’s wild turkey population has grown to unprecedented levels since restoration efforts began in the 1990s, creating a bounty for bird hunters, but a nuisance for farmers, apple growers and gardeners.

The Associated Press / Robert F. Bukaty

Craig Hickman, who has an organic farm in Winthrop, said turkeys have eaten his blueberries and collard greens, and trampled cabbage heads. Hickman, who’s also a state representative, introduced a bill this year that would have allowed people to kill as many turkeys as they wanted.

When Hickman moved to Winthrop in 2002, the typical turkey flock had five birds. Nowadays he sees flocks as big as 45 birds, and he sees them more often. The rising turkey population, he added, has also resulted in a growing tick population.

“They seem to have gone crazy,” he said. “The wild turkeys are running wild.”

Kennamer said it’s true that turkeys can be a nuisance, but that studies show that deer, raccoons and other animals cause more damage. The turkey is more visible, however, because it’s active during the day while those other animals come out at night, he said.

Smith is hoping that more people take up turkey hunting because of the longer hunting season. Turkey hunting’s enjoyable because hunters see and hear a lot of the birds, unlike deer hunting where a hunter might go an entire day without seeing one.

“I’m a lifelong deer hunter and I’ve come to like turkey hunting just as much,” he said.

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