We present a case study from New York, USA, of the use of structured decision making (SDM) to identify fall turkey harvest regulations that best meet stakeholder objectives, in light of recent apparent declines in abundance of wild turkeys in the northeastern United States. We used the SDM framework to incorporate the multiple objectives associated with turkey hunting, stakeholder desires, and region-specific ecological and environmental factors that could influence fall harvest. We identified a set of 4 fall harvest regulations, composed of different season lengths and bag limits, and evaluated their relative achievement of the objectives. We used a stochastic turkey population model, statistical modeling, and expert elicitation to evaluate the consequences of each harvest regulation on each of the objectives. We conducted a statewide mail survey of fall turkey hunters in New York to gather the necessary information to evaluate tradeoffs among multiple objectives associated with hunter satisfaction. The optimal fall harvest regulation was a 2-week season and allowed for the harvest of 1 bird/hunter. This regulation was the most conservative of those evaluated, reflecting the concerns about recent declines in turkey abundance among agency wildlife biologists and the hunting public. Depending on the region of the state, the 2-week, 1-bird regulation was predicted to result in 7–32% more turkeys on the landscape after 5 years. The SDM process provided a transparent framework for setting fall turkey harvest regulations and reduced potential stakeholder conflict by explicitly taking the multiple objectives of different stakeholder groups into account.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation