Utah DWR Proposes Major Turkey Hunting Change

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More hunters could be hunting wild turkeys in Utah next spring.

The Division of Wildlife Resources will present two turkey hunting proposals at a series of upcoming public meetings. The first proposal would increase the number of turkey permits in Utah by 30 percent for the spring 2008 hunts.

The second proposal would more than double the number of permits. It would also create a third hunting season and would allow hunters in two regions and a part of a third to hunt across those regions during the third season.

Proposed waterfowl hunting changes also will be discussed at the meetings.

The meetings provide an opportunity to learn more about the proposals and to provide biologists with your input and suggestions.

Citizens from Utah's five Regional Advisory Councils will take the public input received to the Utah Wildlife Board when it meets Sept. 6 in Salt Lake City. Board members are expected to approve Utah's 2008 Wild Turkey Hunting Guide and the state's 2007–2008 Waterfowl Hunting Guide at the meeting.

Meeting dates, times and locations are as follows:

  • * Southern Region
    Aug. 14, 7 p.m.
    Beaver High School
    195 E. Center St., Beaver
  • * Southeastern Region
    Aug. 15, 6:30 p.m.
    John Wesley Powell Museum
    885 E Main St, Green River
  • * Central Region
    Aug. 21, 6:30 p.m.
    Springville Junior High School
    165 S 700 E, Springville
  • * Northern Region
    Aug. 22, 6 p.m.
    Brigham City Community Center
    24 N. 300 W., Brigham City
  • * Northeastern Region
    Aug. 16, 6:30 p.m.
    Uintah Basin Applied Technology College
    Roosevelt

Wild Turkey

Productive birds

"Interest in turkey hunting is growing in Utah, and we want to give as many hunters a chance to hunt them as we can," says Dennis Southerland, upland game coordinator for the DWR. "There are enough turkeys in Utah that we believe we can do that without affecting the turkey populations."

When it comes to reproducing, Southerland says upland game are different from big game and many other wildlife species.

"Turkeys and other upland game reproduce at a high rate," he says. "It's not unusual for a single male turkey to breed as many as 10 females. And female turkeys are very productive. They usually lay a clutch of between 10 to 12 eggs.

"Only male turkeys are hunted in Utah. We think an increase in permits even as big as the one we're proposing would not have an impact on the state's turkey populations. And it would give more hunters a chance to get out and enjoy turkey hunting."

Two proposals

The DWR's first proposal is similar to what hunters are used to: permits would be increased by 30 percent, and the hunting seasons would be similar to those offered over the past few years. Hunters would be required to hunt in the unit they obtained a permit for.

The second DWR proposal would work like this:

  • * Three hunting seasons would be held on most units. The first season would begin on April 12. The last season would end on May 31.
  • * The first two seasons would be very much like the seasons Utah has now: a limited number of permits would be offered, and hunters would be required to hunt in the unit they drew a permit for.
  • * The third season is where the changes would occur. The third season would be 27 days long, and twice as many permits would be offered for it than were offered for the first two seasons. In three regions the Northern, Central and portions of the Northeastern hunters would not be required to hunt in a single unit. Instead, they could hunt in almost any unit in the region.

After the hunting seasons, DWR biologists would survey those who hunted that spring, including those who hunted during the third season. If hunters liked the changes, and the harvest data showed turkey populations were not declining because of the changes, even more permits could be offered the following year.

"More hunters would be in the field during the third season," Southerland says. "But in two of the regions, and a part of a third, hunters could hunt across the entire region. Allowing hunters to hunt across the region should give everyone plenty of room to spread out."

Turkey plan

Giving more hunters a chance to hunt turkeys one of the goals of Utah's Wild Turkey Strategic Management Plan.

The proposals biologists will present at the meetings are an effort to do just that.

The turkey hunting proposals were drafted by a committee that included DWR biologists and members of the National Wildlife Turkey Federation and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife.

Waterfowl

The DWR is also recommending a change for Utah's upcoming waterfowl hunting season:

Some motorized boat changes would occur at the Public Shooting Grounds Waterfowl Management Area west of Corrine. All of the WMA south of SR-83 — including Pintail Lake — would be open to boats with motors. All of the WMA north of SR-83 would be closed to motorized boats. This would include Crocker, East Crocker, West Crocker, Mud and Spires lakes.

For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.