Wild Turkey Management Meeting in Bonifay

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Few would argue the wild turkey restoration program in Holmes County has been anything but a huge success.

As a result, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and several partnering groups are urging county residents, and even those who live outside the county, who have an interest in wild turkey management in Holmes County, to attend a public meeting Feb. 21 at the Holmes County Extension Office at 1169 East Highway 90 in Bonifay. The meeting is from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

“The wild turkey population has responded nicely over the years, due to habitat work and protection offered by landowners, farmers and hunters,” said Roger Shields, the FWC’s statewide wild turkey program coordinator.

“The bait station surveys show the presence of turkeys at most of the 28 permanent bait sites where we look for evidence of birds.”
That’s certainly very different from 1997, when biologists found no wild turkeys anywhere in the county. In 1998, the FWC closed Holmes County to turkey hunting and urged landowners to use habitat management efforts geared for wild turkeys. In 1998 and ’99, 121 wild turkeys were relocated to the county. The population boomed, as everyone had hoped.

“Wild turkeys will continue to flourish if we focus on good management techniques and afford the birds the protection they need,” Shields said.

He said the focus of the meeting is what turkeys need: timber thinning, prescribed burning, use of food plots and future management options.

In 2006, limited turkey hunting was allowed in Holmes County with a three-day spring season. Since then, the FWC expanded spring season to 16 days and two days for youth only.

Anyone interested in attending is urged to register in advance by contacting Shep Eubanks at bigbuck@ufl.edu or Cindy Owens at cowens58@ufl.edu, or by calling 850-547-1108.

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