Kansas has canceled its fall turkey hunting season, state officials announced Friday, amid a decline in turkey populations across the Midwest and Southeast.
Kansas has documented “consistent declines” in turkey populations over the last 15 years, the state's Department of Wildlife and Parks said in a statement.
That's because fewer turkeys are reaching adulthood in Kansas and other states, said Kent Fricke, the department's small game biologist.
Possible reasons include turkey habitat destruction from urbanization and habitat loss from extreme weather events like drought and flooding.
It's unclear which factors are impacting turkey populations to what extent, Fricke said. A number of states — including Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi — are funding turkey research projects to try to figure it out.
Mississippi also canceled its fall turkey hunting season this year, according to The National Wild Turkey Federation.
Strong turkey populations are considered indicators of good habitat quality, Fricke said, adding that turkey habitat is typically also good for quail, deer and other non-game wildlife like songbirds and small mammals.
Turkey hunting is also an important economic driver to Kansas, because it brings thousands of visitors to the state, Fricke said.