Proposed changes to the spring turkey season

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Proposed changes to the spring turkey season

Unread postby lungbuster » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:26 pm

Legislators are talking turkey

Posted: Feb. 3, 2010 |(7) Comments

State legislators have introduced Senate Bill 481 which would eliminate time periods and geographical zones and create a continuous, statewide 6-week spring turkey hunting season in Wisconsin.



The nature of the bill and the process have some asking: fair or fowl?

Senate Bill 481 would create a continuous statewide six-week spring turkey hunting season, eliminate geographical zones and do away with the preference system for awarding permits.

If signed into law, the bill would basically allow hunters to buy a turkey permit and go hunting anywhere in the state.

Supporters say it would increase opportunity for hunters and, at least in spring, not pose a biological threat to the flock.

Opponents say turkey hunters already have ample opportunity, and the bill unnecessarily increases the risk of hunter interference, overcrowding and shooting incidents while decreasing the ability of wildlife managers to control hunting pressure and harvest.

Most also don't appreciate legislators drafting hunting regulations without first attempting to go through the typical process in Wisconsin.

The bill was introduced by eight senators and has 13 Assembly co-sponsors. The lead author is state Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover).

In a telephone interview, state Sen. Russ Decker (D-Weston) told me the bill was conceived in a meeting he had last year with fellow senators Holperin, Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn), Alan Lasee (R-De Pere) and Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) as well as representatives of the State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Safari Club International - Wisconsin Chapter and the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association.

"We talked about how archaic our turkey hunting rules are," said Decker. "This would open things up."

SB481 was introduced Jan. 25 and assigned to the Senate Committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry and Natural Resources. Holperin is chairman of the committee.

The Department of Natural Resources currently manages the spring turkey hunt with a system of five-day hunting periods (Wednesday through Sunday) in April and May. To control hunting pressure and turkey harvest, the department allocates a limited number of permits for each period in seven geographical zones.

Wild turkeys were extirpated from Wisconsin in the 1800s; only a 1970s trap-and-transfer program using wild birds from Missouri allowed a flock to re-establish in the Badger State. The first Wisconsin spring hunt, with only 1,200 permits issued, was held in 1983.

The DNR issued 218,133 permits for the 2009 spring hunt; about 170,000 hunters harvested 52,581 turkeys. The comeback of the wild turkey is widely regarded as one of the state's leading conservation success stories.

Wisconsin not only ranks among the top states in annual turkey harvest, but hunters give high marks to the hunting experience.

"I think the bill is a step backward," said Mike Rogers of Prairie du Sac, a turkey hunter for more than 25 years and chairman of the Turkey Committee of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. "We've worked carefully to develop a high-quality, safe hunt that allows lots of opportunity. Why risk it?"

According to a random DNR survey sent to 20,000 turkey hunters last year, 85% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the hunt. And less than 15% were interfered with by another hunter.

"I'm also concerned this isn't being driven by turkey hunters and that average turkey hunters won't get heard on this," said Rogers. "If it's a good idea, let the people have some time to talk it over."

Scott Hull, DNR upland game ecologist, said the department has gradually increased opportunity over the years as the turkey population has increased in number and range. The number of permits has increased, the size of the zones has been increased to allow more flexibility and the sale of "leftover" permits assures anyone who really wants a turkey tag can get one.

"One of our objectives is to reduce hunter interference," said Hull. "That is important both for a quality hunt and for safety. The only way to do that is by managing the number of tags at a certain time in a certain area."

Hull said the DNR had not formulated an official position on the bill. He also said the department wasn't afraid to have a conversation with turkey hunters about the Wisconsin program.

"We've made quite a few changes over the years," said Hull. "But it's important any change is carefully considered."

Although there is considerable opposition to the bill in many local chapters, the state chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is supporting it. The state board voted on the issue last Friday, said chapter president Dean Hamilton of Waunakee. The tally was seven for, three against and one abstaining, said Hamilton.

"The bottom line is everybody can get a tag and have flexibility about when and where to hunt," said Hamilton. "Unless somebody can prove it is biologically unwise, we're sticking to our position."

The bill obviously bypasses the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. But contrary to some claims, the bill is not the result of his group's intention to do so, said Hamilton.

"The senators brought it up and, after some discussions, we've agreed to support it," said Hamilton.

Interested parties should keep their eyes and ears open: A public hearing on SB481 may be held as soon as next week, according to Holperin.

Permits in the mail: The DNR has issued more than 149,000 permits for the 2010 spring turkey hunt in Wisconsin. Postcards are being sent to successful applicants. The 2010 season will run April 14 to May 23; the youth turkey hunt is set for April 10 and 11. An estimated 76,636 remaining spring turkey permits will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis starting March 22. Procedures for leftover permit sales will be the same as last spring. Applicants may check their status through the DNR's Online Licensing Center or by calling the DNR Customer Call Center at (888) 936-7463.


What do you think about this??????


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Re: Proposed changes to the spring turkey season

Unread postby Uncle Lou » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:12 pm

I just wanted to see if this pic would post overhere. Tried on another site and it wouldnt post

Image

Good, couldnt think of someone better to hijack. Hi Chris
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Re: Proposed changes to the spring turkey season

Unread postby lungbuster » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:36 pm

Right back at ya louie! :lol: :lol: :mrgreen:
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Re: Proposed changes to the spring turkey season

Unread postby Bigdaddy-yoyo » Sat Feb 27, 2010 1:47 am

Now that gives a whole new meaning to giving the Bird :o Good one Uncle Lou
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Re: Proposed changes to the spring turkey season

Unread postby Bigdaddy-yoyo » Sat Feb 27, 2010 1:49 am

Not sure I like the Bill that is being put up for debate
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Re: Proposed changes to the spring turkey season

Unread postby lungbuster » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:42 am

I personally like the idea, it will give alot of opportunity to people that could not get off work for the stinking 5 day season. With birds in the southern part of the state getting tougher to hunt, 5 days can be tough especially if you have bad weather for 3 or 4 of those 5 days. The populations right now are large enough that I don't see a problem with larger kill numbers.
I'm all for the new bill and have been asking for one long season for many years.

What are you objections to the bill Bigdaddy?
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