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March 18, 2002


For more information contact:
Tony McBride at 908-735-8793

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters that the 2002 Spring Gobbler Season is scheduled to begin, Monday, April 15 and will continue for six weeks. This year, New Jersey will host one of the longest spring gobbler seasons in the Northeast.

"Although New Jersey has had one of the driest periods on record, the mast crop was very good going into the winter months and the mild winter has allowed for great survival of birds. The weights of turkeys trapped by Division biologists have been excellent," said Division Director Bob McDowell.

"Though the statewide turkey hunting outlook this year is outstanding, there may be fewer jakes in the northern areas than in past years," said Division Bureau of Wildlife Management Chief Larry Herrighty. "Last year's production was poor in the northern part of the state because of the large amount of rainfall experienced in late May. Often, and as we've seen in this case, prolonged wet weather conditions can be damaging to nesting success."

The Division's Turkey Restoration Project represents one of the greatest wildlife management success stories in the history of the State. In the mid-1800s, turkeys had disappeared in New Jersey due to habitat changes and over-exploitation. In 1977 biologists released turkeys captured in other states and as the population grew, biologists and technicians began to live-trap and re-locate birds. Using rocket nets and drop nets, more than 1,500 birds have been trapped and re-located, resulting in healthy populations of wild turkeys throughout most of the State. Even in South Jersey (parts of Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland and Gloucester counties) where wild turkeys had been struggling just a few years ago, intensive restoration efforts have improved population numbers significantly.

Spring gobbler hunting in New Jersey was initiated in 1981. The season was three weeks long with 900 permits available and hunting was limited to portions of Sussex and Warren counties. In 1985, the season length was increased to five weeks. In 1997, the entire State was opened to spring gobbler hunting. Since the beginning, record gobbler harvests have been taken in each season indicating continued growth in turkey numbers. The harvest last spring was a record 3,202 gobblers with a fall harvest of 258 birds. Currently, turkey hunters in New Jersey experience an average success rate of 18%, which is excellent for the northeastern United States.

This year, the upcoming spring season quota will be 29,250 permits. In the event all permits are not issued through the lottery, leftover permits will be available for over-the-counter sale on Saturday, March 30, 2002, between 9 a.m. and 12 noon. As long as the supply lasts, they will continue to be sold Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m.- 4 p.m. at five Division field offices and the Trenton office beginning Monday, April 1, 2002. Hunters can call the Division's Permit Hotline at 609-292-9192 during the week of March 18 for information on leftover permit sales.

Additional turkey hunting regulations and other information can be found in the 2002 NJ Wild Turkey Hunting Season Information and Permit Application (available on line in PDF format*) supplement available at license agents or by visiting the Division's website at

* 2002 Turkey Supplement - requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, available free from Adobe's Web site)