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Dec 7, 3:42 AM EST

West Virginia turkey hunters take fewer birds


SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia wildlife officials say hunters killed 948 turkeys during the 2017 season, only 54 percent of the birds taken last year.

The Division of Natural Resources says the number was 23 percent below the five-year average.

Mike Peters, the division's game bird project leader, says they expected a decline since last year's turkey population was bolstered by the emergence of the 17-year cicada, which young turkeys eat.

Last year was also the first time all 55 counties had at least a one-week season.

The 14 counties in West Virginia's central mountains with a four-week season accounted for 39 percent of this year's total.

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