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Overall state turkey tally not terrific

For wild turkey hunters, Western New York is a nice place to see and harvest turkeys during the open spring and fall hunting seasons.

Results of a DEC Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey 2011 released this past week show the highest number of birds -- in terms of flocks and birds observed -- were recorded in Regions 9 and 8 at the western end of the state.

A Region 9 flock total of 366 exceeded the count in all other regions in New York State. Region 8, at 96, finished a distant second but far above any other region.

Concentrations of turkeys were highest in Regions 9 and 8, with Region 9 logging 1.3 birds per square mile of areas surveyed; Region 8 showed a .61 count for birds per mile. The next closest for bird density was Region 6, the western side of the Northern Zone, with .44 birds per mile.

As promising as these survey figures appear, many area turkey hunters reported seeing, hearing and tagging fewer birds this past year. A cold, wet spring in 2011 and substantial numbers of coyotes, foxes and other nest predators may be a factor.

Overall numbers indicate a decline in total observations this past year. The 2011 survey puts total sightings at 642, down from 785 in 2010 and well below the five-year average of 732. The number of individual turkeys observed (10,156) fell way below the 13,151 logged in 2010 and far down from the five-year average of 17,108.

While western counties of the state remain home to substantial numbers of wild turkeys and some impressive toms were tagged this past spring season, the overall statewide count has dropped and much depends on weather and poult (newborn chick) production this coming spring.

To view the entire survey report and sign up as a cooperating observer, go to dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/winterturkeyreLine is overdrawn port11 or call Region 9 senior wildlife biologist Emilio Rende at 372-0645.

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Fur handling help

The Erie County Trappers Association will offer a free fur handling seminar at Collins Conservation Club on Saturday to assist trappers in improving their skills and finished pelt quality.

Several stations will provide tips on pelting, fleshing, stretching, drying, and sizing fur products.

Seminars go from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with food service and raffles available. After the demo, a fur buyer will help assess trappers' goods. Call 532-2457.

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Fur auction action

The Cattaraugus County Trappers Association will hold a Raw Fur Auction Jan. 14 at the Hinsdale Fire Hall, 3701 Main St., in Hinsdale.

Check-ins begin at 7:30 a.m. and auction bidding starts at 10 a.m. Fur grading assistance will be offered for all lots; sellers can withdraw bid items at any time. Dealer lots will be sold last.

For details on buying and selling, call Andy or Cheryl Smith (492-0432) or Dale Kester (763-3416).

Erie County Trappers Association's Fur Auction starts with doors open at 7:30 a.m. and check-ins beginning at 8 a.m. Feb. 11. This year, sellers can donate to the NYS Trappers Association Pelt Donation. Call 337-2556.

email: odrswill@gmail.com