W.Va.: No deaths, injuries in spring turkey season

SOUTH CHARLESTON – No fatalities or injuries were reported to the Law Enforcement Section of the Division of Natural Resources during the 2014 spring turkey hunting season in West Virginia, a milestone according to the division.

A “hunting incident” is defined where a hunter is injured or killed while hunting or preparing to hunt. Lt. Tim Coleman of the DNR Law Enforcement Section credits the Hunter Education Program for the steady improvement.

“In the early 1990s, spring turkey hunting incidents had double digit figures with near double digit figure fatalities before hunter education became mandatory,” Coleman said. “Thanks to the volunteer instructors and natural resources police officers of the West Virginia Hunter Education Program, and to the hunters who have made safety a part of their culture, incidents and fatalities for the spring turkey season were eliminated this year.”

Seven people were killed during turkey season since 2006, the division said. Forty injuries were recorded during the same period.

The four-week spring gobbler season began April 28 and concluded May 24. Historically, the spring turkey season has been associated with unfortunate hunting-related incidents, such as hunters mistaken for game shootings.

Spring gobbler season is a calling sport, with camouflaged hunters imitating the call of hens as they attempt to lure male turkeys into range. Thanks to hunter education classes that became mandatory in 1990 for any hunter born after Jan. 1, 1975, the number of hunting incidents has steadily decreased over the years.

The last spring turkey season hunting-related fatality occurred in 2009.

Hunter education classes are scheduled throughout the year across the state. Hunters can find information about classes in their area at wvdnr.gov/lenforce/education.shtm.

Coleman encourages hunters who have already taken the course to take a refresher to learn about updates in hunter safety and hunting laws.