Turkeys on a fall morning. Photo: Jeff Knight

All successful hunters during Vermont’s fall turkey hunting seasons must, by law, report their turkey within 48 hours to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. Effective October 24, the start of the fall shotgun turkey hunting season, hunters will also have the option to report their harvested turkeys online through the department’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com).

The department developed an online tool for hunters to report their turkeys last spring in response to the COVID-19-related closure of Vermont’s big game reporting stations. The success of this new system to accurately and efficiently collect harvest data and the resounding support hunters expressed for maintaining this option prompted the department to amend the big game reporting regulation to allow this option for the future. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife board acknowledged the many benefits of the online reporting alternative and voted on October 7 to modernize Vermont’s big game reporting procedures to allow it.

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Hunters who prefer to report their turkeys in-person to a check station can continue doing so, but those who prefer the convenience of online reporting will now have that option.

“Online reporting has been used successfully in many other states,” said turkey biologist Chris Bernier. “It is convenient for the hunter and the information collected has proven to be just as valuable for monitoring and managing wild turkey populations.”

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The information needed to report turkeys online is the same as what has been traditionally collected at check stations, including license, tag and contact information, harvest details and biological measurements. There are a few things hunters can do in advance to make submitting a report easier such as having their Conservation ID Number handy (located on their license), knowing what town and Wildlife Management Unit the bird was harvested in and completing all the necessary measurements such as beard and spur lengths, and weight. Although not required, the department also requests that hunters use the online reporting tool to upload a digital photo showing the bird’s beard and properly tagged leg.

The department encourages anyone who has problems reporting their harvest online to contact a local state police dispatcher to be connected with a state game warden for assistance. Regional dispatch numbers are Brattleboro Dispatch. 802-257-7101’ Middlesex Dispatch, 802-229-9191; New Haven Dispatch, 802-388-4919; Royalton Dispatch, 802-234-9933; Rutland Dispatch, 802-773-9101; Shaftsbury Dispatch, 802-442-5421; St. Albans Dispatch, 802-524-5993; St. Johnsbury Dispatch, 802-748-3111; Westminster Dispatch, 802-722-4600; Williston Dispatch, 802-878-7111.

Starting October 24, Vermont turkey hunters can report their turkeys on Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s website.