NEW YORK (WWTI) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed changes to wild turkey hunting regulations.

The suggested changes were announced by DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos on April 5 in an effort to give hunters more turkey hunting opportunities. If enacted one of the proposals would establish a spring turkey season in Suffolk County in 2023, with a season limit of one bearded bird.

Commissioner Seggos highlighted the positive impacts the hunting season has on the environment.

“Wild turkey restoration is one of the greatest success stories of modern wildlife conservation,” Commissioner Seggos said. “In New York, DEC’s management and protection of wild turkeys has allowed the birds to maintain self-sustaining populations in all suitable habitats of the state. This regulation change would expand hunting downstate, ensuring New York remains a premiere destination for turkey hunters in the Northeast.”

According to the DEC, the existence of wild turkeys on Long Island is a relatively recent phenomenon, with populations growing to more than 3,000 birds. The first turkey hunting season on Long Island was a five-day fall season in 2009 with a one-bird bag limit.

After DEC established the season and, later, a two-day youth-only spring season, turkey populations in the area continued to increase. Their populations can now reportedly support additional hunting opportunities in the form of a spring season from May 1 through May 31 with a bag limit of one bearded bird. 

Additionally, the DEC proposed a change that is scheduled to take effect in the fall that would affect hunters statewide. The proposal would change the minimum shot size from #8 to #9 for turkey hunting across New York state, to account for advances in shotshell technology.

Previously, shot sizes smaller than #8 were prohibited because they lacked the kinetic energy downrange to humanely harvest a turkey. Recent advances in shotshell technology use heavier metals such as tungsten alloy, tungsten-iron, or bismuth.

According to the DEC, these heavier shot types, sometimes referred to as “Tungsten Super Shot” or “TSS,” maintain enough energy to humanely harvest a turkey. In terms of kinetic energy, #9 tungsten can have the same weight as #5 lead shot and achieve a higher pellet count.

The public is encouraged to comment on the proposed changes by emailing their thoughts to wildliferegs@dec.ny.gov with “Proposed Turkey Regulations” in the subject line or by mail to Joshua Stiller at NYSDEC at 625 Broadway in Albany before June 5.