Wild turkey release proposal studied by province

The Department of Environment is continuing to study a proposal from a hunting organization to introduce wild turkeys into the province.

Environmental impact assessment being done on wild turkey proposal

The Department of Environment is studying a proposal to introduce wild turkeys into the province.

The Department of Environment is continuing to study a proposal from a hunting organization to introduce wild turkeys into the province.

An environmental impact assessment is necessary because officials consider wild turkeys to be an exotic species, said a department spokesperson.

The assessment, which is already underway, will examine any concerns about disease and crop damage that could result by bringing in the birds.

Department officials say some turkeys have made their way from Maine in recent years, but others have been illegally released in New Brunswick. Many of the birds that were captive and have been illegally released have a low survival rate, according to the department.

Rob Wilson, the president of a local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation in Saint John, has applied for permission to bring wild turkeys into New Brunswick.

He said he expects a decision soon from the provincial government on whether wild turkeys can be stocked in New Brunswick.

"Within the next couple of weeks we'll know where we stand with that," Wilson said.

"It was a five-year proposal we made to the government to release some birds within areas that were approved by our biologist to repopulate the province."

Turkey federation hired a consultant

There is evidence that wild turkeys did exist in southern Maine historically and groups in that state have successfully re-established a wild turkey population.

The local chapter of the wild turkey association hired a consultant last year to help craft its pitch to the government for permission to introduce wild turkeys into the province.

Wilson's group recently held a fundraising event, which attracted more than 200 people, including the province’s natural resources minister.

This isn’t the first time a group has lobbied the provincial government for a wild turkey hunt.

In 2009, the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council suggested a wild turkey hunt as a way to attract more hunters to New Brunswick.

The provincial government dismissed the idea at the time.