Arizona Reduces Turkey Permits in Wallow Fire Burn Area
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission, July 8, unanimously voted to reduce the number of permits issued through the draw for the fall turkey season in Game Management Units 1 and 27 due to unique conditions resulting from the Wallow Fire.
For the upcoming drawing cycle, there are now only 200 permits allocated for hunt number 4501 in Unit 1, a reduction of 475 permits. Unit 27 permits for hunt number 4518 is now set at 300, a reduction of 600. This is a total reduction of 1,075 hunt permit-tags.
Applicants for either of these hunt numbers in the upcoming fall drawing do not need to take any action. The draw will run as normal, and will only issue the number of tags as amended by the commission. Those applicants not drawn will receive a bonus point.
This decision does not affect nonpermit-tags purchased over-the-counter for archery-only and juniors-only fall turkey hunts.
"The Wallow Fire burned approximately 49 percent of unit 1 and 28 percent of unit 27; however, the fire damaged more than 75 percent of the primary turkey habitat in these two units," said Arizona Game and Fish Department's Game Branch Chief, Brian Wakeling. "To compound the conditions, the fire happened right when turkeys are coming off their nests, which can dramatically impact the flightless, young-of-the-year."
Merriam's turkey's are upland, gallinaceous game birds. Their populations can fluctuate dramatically annually, have a relatively short life span, and are much like small game (quail and squirrel) and are much more susceptible to population impacts from wildfires than larger mammal ungulates like deer and elk.
Wakeling added, "The regional staff's diligent efforts during this time of crisis to get the on-the-ground field observations that indicate there was nearly no new recruitment of turkeys in these areas shows their commitment to the public's wildlife resources for today and future generations to come."
Other wildlife, hunting, and wildfires
The Commission did not discuss any other species or hunts at the meeting. Biologists expect all other species can sustain planned hunting without any biological issues, and conditions should still provide good hunting conditions in many areas.
The department provided the commission with a briefing about wildfires and the upcoming big game hunts at the commission's June meeting. The commission took no action at that meeting. To see the presentation given to the commission at their June meeting, visit www.azgfd.gov/w_c/documents/FiresandGameManagement.pdf.
Game and Fish continues to work with the U.S. Forest Service to allow hunters access into units 1 and 27 for upcoming fall hunts.
To learn more about wildfires and wildlife in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/wildfire.
Arizona has an abundant wild turkey population throughout much of the ponderosa forests of the state. However, that was not always the case, due to harvest by early settlers, turkey numbers dramatically decreased.
In the early 1900s, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, sportsmen and conservation organizations, like the National Wild Turkey Federation, implemented transplant efforts and hunting regulations to bring this native species back to thriving conditions.
In addition, there are now two other wild turkey sub-species, the native Gould's turkey which was extirpated from the landscape, and the introduction of the Rio Grande turkey. Wild turkey conservation in Arizona is truly a conservation success story.
To learn more about wildlife conservation efforts by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, visit www.azgfd.gov.