The Maliseet Nation Conservation Council is suggesting the province start a wild turkey hunt as a way to attract more hunters to New Brunswick.

The council wants the Department of Natural Resources to make wild turkeys a protected species and then allow a managed hunt.

Nick Paul, a spokesman for the council, said the organization conducted an unofficial survey of wild turkey numbers in New Brunswick and people reported seeing about 50 birds.

Paul said he believes the population is much higher.

He said managed hunts of wild turkeys are successful in Quebec and Maine and he wants to have one in New Brunswick.

"We've offered to co-manage with the government with this species, regulate a hunt, and through that bring in tourists to the province, and expand the range of products that are offered now," Paul said.

DNR not interested in turkey hunt

But the Department of Natural Resources is not interested in establishing a wild turkey hunt, according to Matt Jones, a government spokesman.

Jones said there is only a small population of wild turkeys in New Brunswick.

Those that are here either drifted over the border from Maine or Quebec, or they were deliberately and illegally introduced.

"Wild turkeys aren't really suited to our climate," Jones said.

"So the province doesn't really have any interest in introducing wild turkeys to the province because it would probably be more hassle than it was worth to make sure they survive the winter."

Paul said he disagrees with the department because he believes the wild turkeys that are in the province already seem to be thriving.

The conservation group will continue to lobby the provincial government for a managed wild turkey hunt, he said.