CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Wild turkeys are now so plentiful in New Hampshire that hunting restrictions are being eased.

The fall turkey season no longer requires an extra permit. Hunters only need their regular turkey license bought last spring and a shotgun.

New Hampshire began a turkey restoration program in the 1970s after they had been gone for a century. As the population of the birds grew, the state expanded the hunting seasons to include one in the fall three years ago.

The fall shotgun season is still small, running just five weekdays: Monday through Friday, Oct. 13-17, and not covering the entire state.

“There will be quite a few more (hunters), potentially,” said Ted Walski of New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

The spring hunting season in May is more popular. Hunters killed a record 4,098 turkeys this spring, compared with 343 turkeys during last fall’s season.

Only male birds can be taken in the spring, but any adult can be shot in the fall.

Hunting wiped out New Hampshire’s turkeys before the Civil War. In 1975, a restoration project began with 25 birds brought in from out of state and released near Keene. After they flourished, more birds were brought in and the population exploded.

New Hampshire now has an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 wild turkeys.

The autumn turkey season covers most of the state, including the Monadnock region and the Souhegan Valley west of Route 13 and north of Route 101, but not the Nashua area and the Seacoast.

This means in Amherst, Brookline and Milford, the fall shotgun season is legal only in half the town, while it isn’t legal at all in Merrimack, Hollis or points east.

“If this holds in the next year or so, we’ll allow some (fall hunting) farther east,” said Walski.


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