Rothschild, Wis. — The DNR Turkey Management Committee has recommended increasing permit numbers slightly for the fall hunt, and now must get approval from the DNR Wildlife Policy Team.
The committee, representing wildlife biologists, conservation wardens, researchers, and partner groups such as the Conservation Congress, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, and Wisconsin Chapter of the National
Wild Turkey Federation, decided to increase fall permits in zones 2 and 7. The remaining five zones would have the same permit numbers as last fall, when the DNR made 95,700 permits available. This fall the committee is recommending that 96,700 permits be made available:
- Zone 1 – 27,500 tags;
- Zone 2 – 18,000 (up from 17,400 last fall);
- Zone 3 – 30,000;
- Zone 4 – 15,000;
- Zone 5 – 3,800;
- Zone 6 – 1,400;
- Zone 7 – 1,000 (up from 600 permits available last fall).
Reasons for the increases in the two zones were complaints from farmers about perceived agricultural turkey damage in Zone 2, and fully subscribed permit issuance in zones 2 and 7.
Scott Walter, DNR upland ecologist and committee chair, said the committee normally is conservative when increasing fall permits because hens are legal to shoot in the fall and biologists don’t want to reduce the breeding stock. However, the hen harvest has not been an inhibitor to population growth and is well within safe harvest guidelines, normally considered to be 7 to 10 percent of the hen population.
“In the big picture of harvest impacts on turkeys in Wisconsin, I don’t think we have to worry at all,” Walter said. “Our hen harvest is incredibly light.”
Most believe the turkey harvest does not affect the turkey population at all. Instead, weather and habitat have the biggest impact on abundance.
Mike Rogers, Conservation Congress Turkey Study Committee chair, said he thinks the dry June in south-central Wisconsin was good for turkey reproduction.
The committee will meet later in the year to set permit numbers for the 2013 spring season.
The committee reviewed preliminary information about the spring harvest. The DNR made 234,097 tags available this past spring and issued 201,984.
The 2012 preliminary harvest was 42,612, which includes 136 birds shot during Learn to Hunt programs and 2,929 birds shot during the youth hunt.
The highest success rate this past spring was in Zone 2, with 26 percent success, followed by Zone 3 with 21 percent and Zone 1 with 20 percent success.
This was the first spring when hunters could hunt on Monday and Tuesday – 5 percent of the harvest occurred on Monday and 7 percent on Tuesday. The overall highest success rate was on Saturdays, when 23 percent of the harvest occurred.
This also was the first season with registrations by phone (64 percent of registrations) and internet (34 percent).
A total of 91 percent of hunters registered their bird within the required 24 hours; one hunter called in 48 days after shooting his bird.
According to Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife data manager, 23 percent of hunters accounted for 42,612 birds. A total of 33,614 hunters registered one bird, 3,015 hunters registered two birds, and 611 registered three birds. Two hunters registered nine birds each.
The committee also heard that:
- There were two hunting accidents (Iowa and Green counties) and a potential third accident in St. Croix County that is still being investigated;
- Questionnaires are going out to determine the compliance rate of hunters to register their turkey by phone or internet;
- UW graduate student Chris Pollentier summarized his research showing that hens nesting in April prefer forested areas, and those nesting or re-nesting in June and July prefer fields;
- Unanimously voted against opening a seventh time period that would extend through the Memorial Day weekend on years when the spring turkey season ended prior to Memorial Day weekend.