February 7, 2012
MADISON - Turkey permits issued by the Department of Natural Resources through the spring turkey preference drawing numbered 137,598 for Wisconsin's 2012 spring wild turkey season. The department printed and mailed postcard notifications to successful applicants, which should be arriving within the next few weeks.
Hunters who do not receive a postcard by mid-February can check on the status of their permit application online through the DNR Online Licensing Center or by calling the DNR Customer Call Center from 7 a.m. through 10 p.m., seven days a week, at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463).
A total of 234,568 permits will be available for the spring 2012 turkey season. This includes left-over permits that will be made available through over-the-counter sales beginning March 19. This is an increase from the 226,249 permits available during the 2011 spring season.
Of the permits available for 2012, 355 permits are allocated to state park and disabled-only turkey hunting zones. The increase in total permit availability partially reflects an increase in the number of permits made available to hunters in Zones 2 and 7, and is also due to an increase in permit issuance to correct an error that occurred during the drawing process.
Considering high historic demand for permits in Zones 2 and 7, as well as a healthy turkey flock in these zones as suggested by relatively high recent hunter success rates, the DNR wild turkey management committee decided to offer an additional 6,600 and 1,200 permits for Zones 2 and 7, respectively, compared to 2011 permit levels.
"These additional permits will go a long way toward meeting hunter demand in these zones, and will allow hunters greater access to permits for their desired time period," said Scott Walter, DNR upland wildlife ecologist.
Additional hunting opportunities will be available to turkey hunters this spring, as the traditional time periods have been extended by two days, lengthening each time period to seven full days. The spring 2012 turkey hunting season will run from April 11 through May 22. The season is divided into six, 7-day time periods, each of which runs from Wednesday through the following Tuesday. This is a change from previous spring turkey seasons, during which the six time periods only ran for five days each.
A total of seven zones, 17 state parks and Fort McCoy will be open for hunting. Hunters are reminded that the Fort McCoy spring turkey hunting season is managed separately from the Wisconsin spring turkey hunt. Hunters who do not receive an approval to hunt turkeys through the state drawing in a Wisconsin turkey hunting zone for the 2012 spring season are eligible to apply for a spring permit at Fort McCoy. Applications can be obtained from Fort McCoy by calling 608-388-3337 or by visiting the Fort McCoy website [Exit DNR].
Hunters harvested 40,133 turkeys during the 2011 spring season. Final harvest numbers for the 2011 fall season will be published in the 2011 Wisconsin Big Game Hunting Summary in the spring of 2012.
The Spring Turkey Youth Hunt was created in 2007 to provide youth under the age of 16 with an opportunity to hunt turkeys and gain valuable hunting experience by working closely with an experienced mentor before the regular season opens. Youth ages 12-15 who have already completed hunter education may hunt during the Youth Hunt while accompanied by an adult aged 18 or older. In addition, thanks to the Mentored Hunting Program that took effect in the fall of 2009, youth hunters aged 10 and 11 may now also participate in the 2012 Youth Turkey Hunt without first having completed hunter education, as long as they do so with a qualified adult mentor and follow the rules laid out under the laws of the program. Each youth must have a valid spring 2012 turkey harvest permit, license, and Wild Turkey Stamp.
Youth are allowed to hunt on April 7 and 8 in the turkey management zone for which their permit is valid, regardless of the time period for which their permit is issued, and may harvest only one male or bearded turkey during the two-day hunt. Youth who do not successfully harvest a turkey during the two-day youth hunt may use their unfilled permit during the time period and in the zone for which the permit was issued. All other spring turkey hunting regulations apply. More information on the Spring Turkey Youth Hunt and the Mentored Hunting Program is available on the DNR website.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter, upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861; Krista McGinley, assistant upland wildlife ecologist, 608-264-8963