wild turkey
Photo by ASHISH SHARMA on Pexels.com

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced that spring wild turkey hunting permits go on sale Saturday, April 1, for the youth, paraplegic, and public hunting seasons.

The 2023 seven-day youth turkey hunting season (ages 12-15) is open April 17-23. Participating youth must have either a junior hunting license (ages 12-14) or a resident hunting license (age 15) and a spring turkey permit. Junior hunters must be in the immediate company of an adult (21 or older) with a valid RI hunting license. The 2023 two-day paraplegic hunter turkey season runs April 22-23. Hunters must have a spring turkey permit and a permanent disability hunting license.

The 2023 spring turkey season for the public opens on April 27 and runs through May 21. Hunters must have a spring turkey permit and a valid RI hunting license. The season bag limit is two bearded turkeys, no more than one of which can be harvested on state-owned land (all lands turkey permit). Legal shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 1 PM. All harvested turkeys must be registered with DEM’S Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) within 24 hours of harvest. Wild turkey licenses may be purchased online on the Rhode Island Outdoors (RIO) website.

Wild turkeys were extirpated in Rhode Island during the early 1800s due to land-use changes and overharvesting. In 1980, DEM and the National Wild Turkey Federation began a wildlife restoration program by translocating 29 turkeys from Vermont to Exeter, RI, and continued this effort in the 1990s. Today, wild turkeys are found in practically all areas of the state. The DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) conducts annual surveys to monitor the resident wild turkey population and has implemented a sustainable wild turkey hunting season since 1985. Wild turkey populations in Rhode Island are stable and provide recreational and wildlife viewing opportunities.

DEM says that it works to protect and enhance wildlife habitat in Rhode Island forests and management areas to ensure healthier, more diverse, and abundant wildlife populations. Hunting has a long tradition in Rhode Island, supporting family customs, connecting people with nature, and attracting tourism to the state. Hunters help provide funding for wildlife conservation through their purchase of firearms and ammunition through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program and generate more matching federal funds ($3 federal match for every $1 state contributed) through the purchase of their state hunting licenses and permits.

DFW’s Hunter Education Program offers hunter safety training programs, the completion of which is required by law in Rhode Island for beginning hunters. To date, more than 40,000 people have completed a hunter safety course in Rhode Island, helping to reduce related accidents in the state and elsewhere.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov.

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