Wild Chesapeake: Near-Record Spring Turkey Season

This was a banner spring for Maryland’s wild turkey hunters. From mid-April to mid-May, sportsmen and women enjoyed the second-highest harvest on record, according to figures released by the  Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Slightly more than four thousand toms (mature male turkeys) were harvested during regular spring and junior hunt turkey seasons, a four percent increase over last year’s take in Maryland.

Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto cited “a combination of abundant wild turkeys throughout most of the state and good weather” as two key factors resulting in an excellent spring season. Hunters were able to hunt again on Sundays in 10 counties, accounting for 314 turkeys.

The county with the highest harvest numbers was Garrett County, reporting 429 turkeys, followed by Washington County with 414. Next was Charles County with 348, Frederick County with 304, and Allegany County with 278. Baltimore, Cecil, Charles, and Prince George’s counties each reported record harvests for their locations, although the DNR did not provide specific numbers for those counties.

Habitat Conservation and Improvement Bill Moves Through Congress

Sport anglers know many factors contribute to an enjoyable and productive fishing trip.

Chief among them are abundant game and forage fish clean water, and healthy habitats. On this latter point fishermen should be encouraged by news that bipartisan, federal legislation, called the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act, has moved forward in both chambers of Congress.

This legislation seeks to establish in law the National Fish Habitat Partnership, which has supported more than 840 projects nationwide to improve fish habitat in all 50 states. The partnership’s overall mission is to protect, restore and enhance the nation’s fish and aquatic communities by leveraging funding from state, federal, tribal, and private resources to achieve maximum benefit.

Key provisions in the bills act include funding the program through 2023, which would end year-to-year uncertainty. That component should make for more effective and strategic conservation projects. Among the many partners are Trout Unlimited, the American Sportfishing Association, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) introduced these bills in March 2019.

-Capt. Chris Dollar