SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Wild turkeys beware!

People in New Brunswick will soon be signing up for the province's first wild turkey hunt after the government announced Tuesday a new hunting season will take place in May.

"I've been involved in the file for a number of years, both inside and outside government," said Mike Holland,New Brunswick's Minister of Natural Resources."Over a decade ago, we noticed that there was an emerging population of wild turkeys here in New Brunswick."

The wild turkey is not considered native to New Brunswick, but is now an established species and the province says amid a growing population, there has been a demand for a hunt.

Holland says before the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more hunters had been going beyond New Brunswick's borders in order to bag a turkey.

"Whether it be travelling to Maine, or to Ontario or to Quebec, or to other New England states, or beyond, the popularity of wild turkey hunting has gone on."

New Brunswick Wildlife Federation president Nathalie Michaud says they have been pushing for this to happen since about 2003.

"Basically they're coming up from Maine, and since they're in New Brunswick, we have to manage them," Michaud said."If the population is not managed, some people know it can be detrimental, especially to agriculture."

Two years ago, researchers with UNB embarked on a study to identify, among other things, the habitat of wild turkeys in New Brunswick. They found that they are more likely to persist in the province's southern regions where there is generally less snow.

"Based on the average snow depth over a five-year period, wild turkeys are more likely to persist in Queens, Albert, Saint John, Westmorland and Kings County," said UNB researcher Ed Czerwinkski.

The time to apply for a licence to hunt will start in early to mid-April.