MN: DNR seeks input on turkey zones
St. Paul - The Minnesota DNR wants to hear from turkey hunters regarding a proposal that would give them more room to roam within their permit area.
Until Oct. 10 the department will accept online comments regarding a proposal to consolidate the state's 77 spring turkey permit areas into nine larger areas.
Neighboring Wisconsin did the same thing two years ago.
"Minnesota is in a unique situation in that no other states have remotely the number of permit areas that we have," said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife programs manager. The existing permit areas are based on deer-hunting permit areas.
About three-fourths of the state is open to turkey hunting.
According to a DNR press release, "The changes will allow increased hunting access afforded by larger permit areas and will greatly simplify administration and population management.
"Permit numbers available to hunters are not affected by this proposal," the DNR statement says. "The number of permits available in the larger permit areas will essentially be the sum of all permits from the original, smaller areas."
Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader, said the state of turkeys in Minnesota makes the proposal sensible.
"Our turkey populations are doing exceptionally well, and we no longer have a need to manage turkeys on such a small scale," Penning said in the press release. "These changes will provide additional flexibility and opportunity to hunters."
The DNR says the Whitewater, Carlos Avery, and Mille Lacs wildlife management areas would remain separate turkey permit areas.
Merchant said he hopes taking comments online only on the proposal will fast-track it - assuming there are no major hunter concerns - and allow its implementation next spring.
A map of the proposed turkey permit areas and a feedback form are available online (www.dnr.state.mn.us). Additional comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public input will be reviewed and considered in October, according to the department. A decision regarding the proposal will be made in November.
A brief history
According to the DNR, the wild turkey was extinct in Minnesota beginning around 1900. During the '60s, attempts to re-establish the species using game farm stock were unsuccessful.
But a 1971 attempt to move wild turkeys from Missouri to the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area in Winona County proved successful. From the '70s through the 2000s, turkeys were trapped and relocated in the state, and now, "the wild turkey population thrives throughout the non-boreal forest portion of the state," according to the DNR.