Turkey Permits on Sale March 25

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Hunting, fishing, trapping and other 2006 licenses and harvest permits for fish and wildlife activities in Wisconsin will go on sale March 10. Over-the-counter sales of spring turkey permits will start at noon on Saturday, March 25.

In the past if the number of spring turkey permits exceeded the number of applications for a specific zone and time period, remaining permits were issued through a preference drawing. This year, those permits will be available for sale on a first-come, first served basis through license sales outlets, over the Internet or by phone. Initially, Department of Natural Resources officials had hoped to have the turkey permits also go on sale March 10, but that date has been moved back to march 25.

“We want -- and our customers expect -- that this first ever first-come, first-served sale of left-over spring turkey hunting permits will take place without any hitches,” said Diane Brookbank, director of DNR Bureau of Customer Service and Licensing.

“We know there is a lot of anticipation out there with a lot of eager customers who are hoping to get one of the remaining permits for this popular sport,” said Brookbank. “Extra time is needed to be sure that every license vendor is geared-up and ready for what we hear could be a rush for the available permits. We want the terminal at every vendor working perfectly so the playing field is dead-level across the state,” she said. “Hunters we talked to also wanted us to begin sales on a Saturday when most people were off work.”

Opening sales on March 25 should still give hunters plenty of time to plan their outings, since only two turkey management zones have any permits available before the fourth hunting period, which opens May 3.

The spring hunting season will run from April 12 through May 21. The season is divided into six 5-day (Wednesday through Sunday) time periods. A total of 46 zones, 12 state parks and Fort McCoy will be open for hunting.

Under the new system, hunters will be able to purchase one turkey permit per day until each zone and time period is sold out. Permits cost $10 for residents and $15 for non residents in addition to an annual hunting license and turkey stamp. All hunters must first purchase a spring turkey license and stamp fee in order to purchase a bonus permit, unless they are a 2006 Conservation Patron license holder. DNR encourages patron license buyers to purchase their license prior to March 25 to expedite buying additional spring turkey permits. Permits cannot be purchased for another individual, with the exception that a parent/guardian can purchase a permit for their minor child.

More than 40,250 permits across almost all units in the May hunting periods are available. In addition, a few permits are available in Unit 45 and Mirror Lake State Park in late April. The number of permits in each unit is limited and many are expected to sell out quickly. Hunters interested in Disabled Hunt Units (5B. 10B, 11A, 12A, 15 B, 25A) must visit a DNR service center to purchase their permit. A complete list of units with the number of permits is available on the DNR Web site or contact at DNR service centers.

This is the first season the Department of Natural Resources will have issued more than 200,000 permits to spring turkey hunters, and the first time the entire state will be open for turkey hunting. As Wisconsin’s turkey population continues to expand its size and range hunters can expect that number to increase. There were 193,316 permits issued for the 2005 spring season. Hunters harvested 46,159 turkeys for a success rate of about 24 percent.

Winter wild turkey survival should be good this year, according to Andrea Mezera, DNR upland wildlife ecologist.