Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Turkey committee wants status quo for turkey tags

Milladore, Wis. – The DNR_Turkey Committee met June 16 at the
Mead Wildlife Area and set final permit levels for this fall and
preliminary permit levels for the spring of 2011 – numbers that
will be similar to the two previous seasons, respectively.

An updated spring harvest also was put at 47,722 birds, down
about 10 percent from the 2009 spring harvest.

Each June the committee sets the final permit levels for the
fall season, and initial tags levels for the following spring. The
committee will meet in December to approve final tag levels for
next spring.

DNR Acting Upland Wildlife Ecologist Sharon Fandel noted that
the committee had assured hunters that it would not reduce tag
numbers when the state went to larger hunting zones.

Some hunters feared that going to seven new zones from the 46
smaller zones would result in reduced tag opportunities. But, one
of the first things that committee members look at when setting
permit levels is the number of first-choice permits requested in
each zone by hunters who meet the December deadline. The committee
wants to be able to fulfill that demand during the season.

“One of the new additions this fall is that hunting turkeys with
dogs will be open statewide, rather than just in the southwestern
counties,” Fandel told committee members.

This fall’s hunt will run Sept. 18 through Nov. 18 statewide. An
extended fall season will run from Nov. 29 through Dec. 31 in Zone
1 through Zone 5. The December extension sunsets at the end of this
year.

That season may appear on the 2011 spring hearing agenda as a
permanent rule offering.

The committee briefly entertained an idea to increase the number
of permits in Zone 2 from 17,400 to 18,000 in case the demand
increased this fall. But members decided that with the slightly
reduced spring harvest, it would be best to keep fall tag levels
the same as the fall of 2009.

Thus, final fall tag levels will total 95,700, or: Zone 1,
27,500; Zone 2, 17,400; Zone 3, 30,000; Zone 4, 15,000; Zone 5,
3,800; Zone 6, 1,400; and Zone 7, 600.

Last year the DNR had 95,700 fall tags available and issued
68,796. The final 2009 fall kill totaled 8,281 birds, the lowest
since 1997 when 6,004 birds were registered. The state record fall
kill was 12,554 birds in 2003.

When it came time to set an initial number of 2011 spring tags,
there was concern about the 10-percent drop in harvest this past
spring from 2009, and whether there was enough reason to increase
tag levels.

DNR wildlife biologist Kevin Morgan, of Barron, said hunters
were not seeing as many birds as they had the previous spring.

The committee decided to keep permit numbers the same as the
2010 spring hunt for now. If nothing changes, there will again be
226,204 permits available, as follows: Zone 1, 74,400 tags; Zone 2,
34,200; Zone 3, 63,000; Zone 4, 34,920; Zone 5, 12,000; Zone 6,
4,500; and Zone 7, 2,400.

A total of 39,475 hunters bought one leftover tag this past
spring; 7,445 bought two tags; 165 bought five tags; one person
bought 10; two people bought 11; and one person bought 14 leftover
permits.

Fandel said the phone-in or online registration of turkeys is
planned to be rolled out for the fall 2011 season.

That proposal went to the spring hearings in 2009 and was
approved by a vote of 5,743-1,051. Hunters would no longer have to
drive to a registration station, but instead could go home and call
in or use a computer to register their birds.

“Hunters are the ones we are targeting here because they won’t
have to drive to register their bird and don’t have to find a
(registration) place that is open. With high gas prices, they
should be happy,” said DNR wildlife biologist Kay Brockman-Mederas,
of Shawano.

The proposal also will reduce DNR expenses.

Committee members suggested that when the new system goes into
effect, the DNR should include drawings of juvenile male and female
turkeys in the regulations booklet to help hunters identify their
birds when reporting their harvest.

The committee heard about three rule changes that were proposed
in resolutions at the 2010 spring hearings – making landowner tags
specific to the land owned, expanding spring hunting for new
hunters, and extending the spring seasons from five to seven
days.

All three proposals will go to the Conservation Congress Turkey
Hunting Committee.

However, the DNR committee expressed interest in having the
seven-day season considered by the DNR Regulations Committee for
inclusion on the DNR side of the spring hearings in 2011.

Scott Lutz, UW-Madison assistant professor, said the first year
of a research project on hen behavior is under way. A UW researcher
is capturing and putting radios on hens in four townships in
Taylor, Eau Claire, Richland, and Vernon counties.

This winter, 68 hens were released as part of the project; 78
percent of the hens survived.

“We are looking at how hens respond to the ratio of openings and
forest,” Lutz said. “From research we did with gobblers, it appears
that there is an optimal mix of 40 to 60 percent forested land for
gobblers.”

DNR Database Manager Brian Dhuey told the committee that the
public is able to report brood observations to the DNR this
summer.

The reports will be accepted through August for ruffed grouse,
turkeys, pheasants, gray partridge, sharp-tailed grouse, quail, and
prairie chickens.

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