Division of Fish & Wildlife announces Delaware’s 2016 wild turkey season produced new state record harvest of 706 birds

DOVER – Delaware’s month-long spring turkey season, which ended May 7, yielded 706 birds – a new state record, surpassing the previous record of 687 in 2014, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today. Delaware allows only the harvest of turkeys with beards – almost always males – during the spring season, the only time of year turkeys may be hunted here.

“The recovery of the wild turkey in Delaware is a remarkable conservation success, made possible by the stewardship of hunters and the Delaware Chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation,” said Division of Fish & Wildlife Director David Saveikis. “Such stewardship includes the Division using hunting license revenues and federal funds derived from the purchase of hunting equipment to restore and sustain the state’s wild turkey population, which helped establish the sport of turkey hunting in Delaware.”

“The turkey harvest really started climbing in 2005, and we have experienced a five-fold increase in harvest over the last decade,” said Joe Rogerson, Division of Fish & Wildlife biologist and program manager with Species Conservation and Research. “The growing popularity of turkey hunting combined with a robust turkey population and abundant habitat has provided a fantastic spring hunting opportunity.”

Highlights of the 2016 season included the harvest of 36 “non-typical” turkeys, consisting of gobblers with more than one beard and one turkey with two spurs on each of its legs. Since Delaware opened turkey hunting in 1991, this was the first turkey harvested in Delaware that had multiple spurs on a leg, as nearly all male turkeys have one spur on each leg. Of the birds with multiple beards, the majority – 36 – had two beards, 10 had three beards and three had four beards.

Birds were harvested in 17 of 18 wildlife management zones. Three zones stood out as turkey “hot spots” – zones 4 and 6 in western Kent County, and zone 11 between Seaford and Georgetown in Sussex County – accounting for 38 percent of the total statewide harvest. Zone 1A, which is in New Castle County north of I-95/295, was the only zone where no birds were harvested.

This year, nearly nine out of 10 birds harvested in Delaware came from private land – 86.3 percent of the 706 turkeys harvested. Hunters also were successful on public lands, with 92 birds bagged. Quality hunting opportunities on public land were available statewide as evidenced by turkeys being harvested from 20 different public land areas.

For hunters planning ahead, the 2017 wild turkey season will start Saturday, April 8 and run through Saturday, May 6, with the special youth and disabled hunter day set for Saturday, April 1. Also, before hunting wild turkeys in Delaware, hunters are required to take a turkey hunter education class. For more information, go to Delaware Hunter Education Courses.

In addition to setting overall turkey harvest records, Delaware hunters also harvested a record 14,681 deer during the 2015/16 hunting season.

“To set records for the overall harvest of both deer and turkeys during the same hunting season is certainly a testament to effective wildlife management and the great opportunities available to hunters for these two important game species,” Rogerson said.

For more information on wild turkeys in Delaware, please contact Joe Rogerson, Division of Fish & Wildlife, at 302-735-3600.

The wild turkey: A Delaware conservation success story
Beginning in early 1984, with support from the National Wild Turkey Federation, DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists released 34 wild-trapped turkeys from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont into Sussex and Kent counties. Reintroductions continued through the 1990s, and once the population had established a foothold in Delaware, a hunting season was opened in 1991. Today, Delaware has a healthy statewide population estimated at 6,000 birds.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 205


‘Abandoned’ fawns: What you should know – and what you should not do if you ‘find’ them

DOVER – Fawning season for white-tailed deer has begun in Delaware, with most fawns born during the last week of May through the first week of June. Every year at about this time, well-meaning wildlife watchers call DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife offices about “abandoned” fawns, thinking that doing the right thing means “saving” these newborns by bringing them home or to a wildlife rehabilitator.

Actually, that’s the wrong thing to do, according to Division of Fish & Wildlife program manager and biologist Joe Rogerson: “People who remove fawns from the wild may not realize some wildlife facts,” he said. “First and foremost, the fawn hasn’t been ‘abandoned’ at all.”

“Even if a fawn appears to be alone, the mother is likely bedded close by. Newborn fawns need to feed every few hours so the doe never strays far,” Rogerson said. “Fawns don’t become active enough to start traveling with their mothers until they are about two months old, so the survival instinct of a newborn fawn is to stay very still and ‘hide’ from predators.”

Furthermore, research has shown that many fawns cared for by people have a greatly decreased chance of survival once they are released back into the wild, compared to deer raised by their mothers. Fawns raised in the wild are able to learn survival instincts from their mothers that people simply cannot teach them.

Not only is removing a fawn from its hiding place not in the animal’s best interest, it is also illegal in Delaware to possess or attempt to rehabilitate a live white-tailed deer or any native wildlife without a permit from the Division of Fish & Wildlife. These offenses are punishable by fines of $100 to $250 per offense, plus prosecution and court costs. A second offense within five years of a conviction is punishable by a fine of $100 to $500 plus court costs; the person may also face up to 20 days in jail in addition to or in place of the fine. In addition, any deer held illegally in captivity will be removed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife, and in some cases these confiscated deer are euthanized if not suitable for rehabilitation. Furthermore, it is a violation of both state and federal laws to move wildlife between states.

“The bottom line is, if you really care about the fawn and its well-being, please leave the animal alone. Its mother will soon return and the animal will have a far greater chance at survival than if you take it home,” Rogerson added. “This same practice is applicable for most recently-born animals that people may encounter this spring. Generally, an animal’s best chance at survival is when it is left in the wild.”

For more information about fawns or Delaware’s white-tailed deer, please contact Joe Rogerson at 302-735-3600.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 191


2017/18 Delaware Waterfowl and 2017 Trout Stamp winners announced

2017/18 Delaware Waterfowl Stamp
2017/18 Delaware Waterfowl Stamp by Catherine Temple

DOVER – The results are in, and two artists have won top honors in the state’s sporting stamp art contests. A painting of canvasback ducks with a Chesapeake Bay retriever by Catherine Temple of Clarkston, Wash., will grace the 2017/18 Delaware Waterfowl Stamp, and a painting of a brown trout by Jeffrey Klinefelter of Etna Green, Ind., will adorn the 2017 Delaware Trout Stamp.

The paintings won top honors in the DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife’s annual stamp art competition, held April 14 at the Dover Public Library. This year’s competition drew 13 entries for the 2017/18 Waterfowl Stamp and 10 entries for the 2017 Trout Stamp. This year’s 37th anniversary Waterfowl Stamp contest specified that artwork chosen must include a canvasback duck and a Chesapeake Bay retriever.

As the 2017/18 Waterfowl Stamp winner, Catherine Temple receives a $2,500 prize and 150 artist’s proofs of the limited edition print series of her first place entry. Temple is an artist pursuing her passion for painting dogs and birds in the outdoors. As an avid outdoorswoman and self-taught artist, she uses her natural talents to create realistic portraits of hunting dogs and wild creatures in the mediums of acrylic, watercolor and gouache for clients and collectors across the country. The goal of her art is and has always been to tell a story, capture a memory or stir the heart and to bring to light that which is unseen in the world.

2017 Delaware Trout Stamp
2017 Delaware Trout Stamp by Jeffrey Klinefelter

As the 2017 Trout Stamp winner, Jeffrey Klinefelter receives $250 and retains the rights to reproduce and sell prints of the stamp. After developing an interest in drawing and painting at a young age, Klinefelter graduated from Indiana University’s Herron School of Art. His interest in wildlife art came a few years later when he entered the federal duck stamp and Indiana stamp contests. Since then, he has won numerous stamp contests, including three Delaware Duck Stamp contests and five Delaware Trout Stamp contests. His most recent awards include winning the 2016/17 Ohio Wetland Habitat Stamp Competition and the 2015 Connecticut Duck Stamp contest.

Other winners included:

  • 2017/18 Waterfowl Stamp: Second place – Robin Myers of Bloomfield, Ind.; Third place – Paul Makuchal of Pocomoke, Md.; Honorable mentions – George Bradford of Georgetown, Del.; Daniel Allard of Marengo, Ohio; and Mark Thone of Shakopee, Minn.
  • 2017 Trout Stamp: Second place – Matt Patterson of New Ipswich, N.H., brown trout; Third place – George Bradford of Georgetown, Del., brown trout; Honorable mentions – Charles Rondeau of Port Angeles, Wash., rainbow trout; Jeffrey Klinefelter of Etna Green, Ind., rainbow trout; and Paul Fenwick of Hillsborough, N.J., rainbow trout.
    The winning 2017/18 Delaware Waterfowl Stamp will be available July 1, 2017, and the winning 2017 Delaware Trout Stamp will be available Jan. 1, 2017.

Waterfowl and Trout Stamp entries are on display through Friday, April 29 at the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 2591 Whitehall Neck Road, Smyrna, DE 19977. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, please call 302-653-9345.

The 2017/18 Waterfowl Stamp judges were: Lou Caputo, Delaware Ducks Unlimited representative; Lloyd Alexander, art collector and retired wildlife professional; Paul Shertz, artist; Anthony Gonzon, wildlife biologist; and David Saveikis, Director, Division of Fish & Wildlife.

The 2017 Trout Stamp judges were: Noel Kuhrt, Delaware Trout Association; Leon Spence, artist; Cathy Martin, fisheries biologist; Charlie Miller, fisheries biologist; and Craig Karsnitz, member, Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish.

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, started the Delaware Waterfowl Stamp (formerly known as the Delaware Duck Stamp) and print program in 1980 to raise funds for waterfowl conservation, including acquiring and improving wetland habitats vital to the survival of migratory waterfowl. To date, more than $2.6 million has been raised. Waterfowl Stamps go on sale July 1 of each year. Residents age 16 and older are required to purchase a Delaware Waterfowl Stamp, which costs $9, for hunting migratory waterfowl in Delaware. Delaware resident hunters age 65 and older are not required to purchase a Delaware waterfowl stamp.

The Division of Fish & Wildlife began requiring trout stamps in the 1950s, and a trout stamp and a general fishing license are required to fish in designated trout waters during certain seasons. Trout stamp art was first used in 1977. The fees paid for Trout Stamps are used to purchase rainbow and brown trout from commercial hatcheries, with the purchased trout stocked in two downstate ponds and selected streams in northern New Castle County for Delaware’s trout seasons. Trout stamps go on sale January 1 of each year. Residents 16 through 64 years of age are required to have a Delaware Trout Stamp, which costs $4.20. Residents ages 12 through 15 years old are required to have a Young Angler Trout Stamp, which costs $2.10. Non-residents 12 years of age and older are required to have a Non-Resident Trout Stamp, which costs $6.20.

Delaware hunting and fishing licenses, as well as Waterfowl Stamps and Trout Stamps, are sold online, at the licensing desk in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, and by license agents statewide. To find a participating agent, or to purchase licenses or stamps online, visit Delaware Licenses. For additional information on Delaware hunting and fishing licenses, call 302-739-9918.

For more information on Delaware’s sporting stamp art competitions, please call DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife at 302-739-9912.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 134


Delaware Waterfowl, Trout Stamp contests set for April 14

DOVER – Wildlife art enthusiasts, stamp and print collectors, waterfowl hunters, anglers, birdwatchers and wetland conservationists will gather at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, April 14 at the Dover Public Library for the judging of Delaware’s annual Waterfowl Stamp and Trout Stamp contests. Following the competition, entries will be on display at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge April 15-29.

Sponsored by DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, the annual waterfowl stamp contest draws entries by renowned and emerging artists from across the country. The winning artwork will be reproduced on a stamp which must be carried by most waterfowl hunters. Waterfowl stamps are also purchased by collectors and other conservation-minded citizens.

This year will mark the 37th anniversary of the contest, which began in 1980 to raise funds for waterfowl conservation, including acquiring and improving wetland habitats vital to the survival of migratory waterfowl. To date, more than $2.6 million has been raised from the purchase of Delaware Waterfowl Stamps. The new Waterfowl Stamp, which will go on sale for the 2017/18 hunting season, will feature artwork that must include a canvasback duck and a Chesapeake Bay retriever.

For the 2017 Trout Stamp contest, artists from across the nation had the opportunity to submit paintings of rainbow, brown or brook trout for consideration. The winning artwork will be reproduced on a stamp that is required for most trout anglers. Some 6,500 trout anglers and stamp collectors support this program annually, generating funds to purchase trout for stocking in six northern New Castle County streams, Tidbury Pond in Kent County and Newton Pond in Sussex County.

Delaware’s 2017/18 Waterfowl Stamp will be selected by five judges to include a Ducks Unlimited designee and a member of the Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish, with the remaining three judges randomly selected by the director of the Division of Fish & Wildlife from a pool of available judges that includes conservationists, biologists and artists. The 2017 Delaware Trout Stamp also will be selected by five judges: a member of the Delaware Trout Association and a member of the Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish, with the remaining three judges also randomly selected by the director of the Division of Fish & Wildlife from a pool including anglers, biologists and artists.

For more information on Delaware’s Waterfowl Stamp and Trout Stamp programs, please contact the Division of Fish & Wildlife at 302-739-9911, or visit www.fw.delaware.gov.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 112


Delaware turkey hunting season to open April 9

DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife announces this year’s check stations

DOVER – Delaware’s spring turkey hunting season opens Saturday, April 9, and runs through Saturday, May 7, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today. Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Hunters are reminded that only bearded birds may be taken, and that all harvested birds must be checked at an authorized turkey check station by 2:30 p.m. on the day of the hunt. Bag limit is one bearded bird per turkey hunter per year.

Hunters must have successfully completed a mandatory turkey education class before they can legally hunt wild turkeys in Delaware. Turkey hunters also are required to carry their Hunter Education/Turkey Education card certifying successful completion of the mandatory turkey course.

Hunting on public lands, including state forest lands, is by preseason lottery permit only. Hunters must carry their public lands permit while hunting and may only hunt the designated area and season segment/dates specified in the permit.

DNREC Hunter Education Coordinator Mark Ostroski offered some tips for a safe and successful hunt. “A successful turkey hunt depends on many factors, including skill, careful preparation and attention to safety details,” he said. “Hunters should be sure to pattern their gun, because knowing where and how your gun shoots can be the difference between failure and success at bagging that big gobbler.”

Ostroski noted that hunters also should remember these important safety practices:

  • Take time to identify your target and what lies beyond;
  • It is illegal and unsafe to wear clothing that includes the colors red, blue, black or white while turkey hunting;
  • Never stalk a wild turkey; and
  • Do not imitate the male gobbling call while trying to attract another gobbler.

The wild turkey remains one of Delaware’s top wildlife restoration successes after being on the verge of extinction by the early 20th century. In the early 1980s, the Division of Fish & Wildlife partnered with the Delaware chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation and Delaware Wild Lands to reestablish a wild turkey population in the state. By 1991, the population had grown large enough to permit opening a wild turkey hunting season, and the big birds continue to thrive and multiply.

Last year, 633 birds were harvested, the second highest record to date and only 54 fewer turkeys than the previous seasons harvest of 687. “Over the past four seasons, hunters have harvested more than 600 turkeys each season, which can be attributed to the growing popularity of spring turkey hunting and a healthy turkey population,” said Wildlife Biologist Joe Rogerson.

Authorized turkey check stations for 2016 will be available at the following locations:

New Castle County*

  • Ommelanden Hunter Education and Training Center
    1205 River Rd, New Castle, DE 19720
    302-323-5333

*Note: On page 31 of the of the 2015/16 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide, Master Baiters Bait and Tackle in New Castle, is listed as a 2016 Delaware Turkey Check Station, but they will not be participating this season.

Kent County

  • McKay Wildlife and Hunter Education Field Office
    6180 Hay Point Landing Road, Smyrna, DE 19977
    (Intersection of Route 9/Shorts Landing Road)
    302-735-3600
  • Little Creek Wildlife Area Check Station
    Route 9/Bayside Drive͕, Little Creek, DE 19961
    (Just south of the Town of Little Creek)
    302-739-4610
  • Williamsville Store
    3544 Williamsville Road, Houston, DE 19954
    (Intersection of Deep Grass Lane and Williamsville Road)
    302-424-2277
  • First State Sporting Goods
    825 Halltown Road, Marydel, DE 19964
    302-343-9696
  • Miller’s Butcher Shop
    577 Morgans Choice Road, Wyoming, DE 19934
    302-697-8278
  • LP Sports Center
    1 East Street, Spartan Plaza, Harrington, DE 19952
    302-398-6373
  • Delmarva Speed & Sport
    689 Warner Road, Milford, DE 19963
    302-424-1179

Sussex County

  • Wildlife Recreations
    9641 Tharp Road, Seaford, DE 19973
    302-629-4524
  • Hook ‘Em & Cook ‘Em
    3444 Coastal Highway, Unit 3, Bethany Beach, DE 19930
    302-539-6243
  • That Place
    30618 Millsboro Highway, Millsboro, DE 19966
    302-934-9260
  • Bucks and Ducks Sports Center
    14882 Hardscrabble Road, Seaford, DE 19973
    302-875-5600
  • Kelly’s Outdoors
    29920 John J. Williams Highway, Millsboro, DE 19966
    302-934-7517

NOTE: The list of check stations is subject to change without notice. Visit Hunting Information after April 1 for any changes before the season begins. Check station hours may vary, so hunters are advised to call the station where they are likely to check a bird to confirm the hours of operation. Hunters who want to have their bird scored and entered into the National Wild Turkey Federation records are reminded to have their bird’s live weight recorded on a certified scale. If the check station does not have a certified scale, hunters will be directed to another station to have the turkey re-weighed.

Most hunters are required to have a Delaware hunting license. Hunting licenses are sold online, at the licensing desk in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and by license agents statewide. To find a participating agent, or to purchase a license online, visit Delaware Licenses. For additional information on Delaware hunting licenses, call 302-739-9918.

To hunt wild turkeys on public land in Delaware, hunters must enter a lottery from which public lands permits are drawn. Delaware’s wild turkey season is broken down into four week-long segments, this year spanning April 9-May 7. Turkey hunters are drawn via the lottery system and issued a permit that enables them to hunt a designated public land area, such as the C&D Canal Conservation Area or Redden State Forest, for example, during a specified one-week segment.

For more information on hunting in Delaware, including the application for the public land permit lottery and information about turkey season segments, click on 2015-2016 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide. The guide also is available in printed form at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk, and from license agents throughout the state. For more information about public lands that allow turkey hunting, click Wildlife Area Hunting Maps or State Forest Maps.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 94