With the beginning of the spring turkey hunting season just days away, Governor Paul R. LePage has signed into law a bill that expands hunting opportunities this spring in Downeast Maine.
The legislature approved bill LD 477, “An Act To Expand Wild Turkey Hunting,” and the Governor signed it into law on Thursday, April 25.
Department wildlife biologists have determined that the turkey population in WMD 27 is at a level that can withstand being open to the spring hunt. To pass the bill in time for the spring season, the IFW Committee voted it out of committee as an emergency at the Department’s request.
“I commend the Department for being able to open another district to turkey hunters, and I am pleased that we were able to enact it in time for Youth Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Day,” said Governor LePage.
This year’s Youth Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Day is Saturday, April 27. The Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Season is open from April 29 to June 1.
WMD 27 is that district along the coastline in Downeast Maine.
WMD 27 will be open for all hunters in possession of a big game hunting license and wild turkey hunting permit for bearded turkeys only. The permit costs $20 and is good for one bearded bird in the spring and a bird of either sex in the fall. Holders of a turkey permit may obtain a second bearded turkey permit for an additional $20. Resident youth hunters are not required to purchase a turkey permit but must have a junior hunting license.
Last year, more than 16,000 permits to hunt wild turkeys were sold in Maine.
Wild turkeys were absent from Maine since the early 1800s until restoration efforts began in 1977. In cooperation with the National Wild Turkey Federation, MDIFW and partners in Vermont captured 41 wild turkeys and transported and released them in York County. Following protocols developed in other states, Maine biologists and members of the now State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation slowly worked to trap and transfer birds east and north of the original releases.
Today, Department biologists estimate the statewide population to be in excess of 50,000 turkeys and we maintain that we have one of the very best turkey hunt programs in the east.
For more information on wild turkey hunting in Maine, please visit www.mefishwildlife.com