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Doug Smith

Star Tribune

DNR to consider changes to spring turkey hunting season

The DNR plans to ask Minnesota turkey hunters how the agency can increase hunter opportunity and satisfaction during the spring turkey season.

A series of four public discussion meetings will be held later in September and in October.

 “These are regional discussion meetings where we’re asking citizen participants to help review, evaluate and make recommendations on how DNR can improve the spring turkey season,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations program manager.

Spring turkey hunting in Minnesota has grown from 400 hunters harvesting 94 turkeys in 1978 to 47,000 hunters harvesting 11,734 birds in 2015. The record harvest occurred in 2010 when 46,500 hunters took nearly 13,500 turkeys.

Despite unlimited license availability, expanded youth and archery opportunities and an increasing turkey range, the number of people who turkey hunt appears to be plateauing, the DNR says.

Here's more from the DNR news release:

“When this native bird was being restored here in Minnesota, it made sense to conduct very conservative seasons,” Merchant said. “Now that the wild turkey population has grown and expanded to occupy all but northern Minnesota’s boreal forest region, it’s time to take a comprehensive look at the spring turkey season structure and design.”

Anyone can register to attend one of the four regional turkey hunting meetings that will take place in St. Paul on Tuesday, Sept. 29; New Ulm on Wednesday, Sept. 30; Winona on Tuesday, Oct. 6; or Alexandria on Thursday, Oct. 8. All meetings will take place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and include refreshments.

Registration is requested because space is limited to 36 participants per meeting. People can register between Thursday, Sept. 3, and Friday, Sept. 25, on the DNR website at or by calling 651-259-5204. There is no registration fee.

At each meeting, DNR staff will provide an overview of turkey hunting and turkey population status. Participants will then be led through a series of facilitated small-group discussions, where they can explore ideas with fellow stakeholders and DNR staff. Topics for discussion will include the spring turkey hunting season structure and regulations, and how to expand hunting opportunities, improve hunter satisfaction and sustain a healthy turkey population.

Participants’ input will be recorded and shared with wildlife staff as they consider which changes, if any, to make to the 2016 spring turkey hunt. The public also will have an opportunity to provide input before any changes resulting from this process take effect.

Pheasant count up 42 percent in South Dakota



Good news for the thousands of Minnesota pheasant hunters who head west each fall to chase roosters in South Dakota: pheasant numbers there are up.

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks says its annual pheasant brood survey show a 42 percent increase in the statewide pheasants-per-mile (PPM) index from 2014.

The 2015 statewide PPM index of 3.80 is up from 2.68 last year and 1.52 in 2013. The statewide PPM index is similar to 2011 when hunters harvested 1.56 million roosters.

Here's more from a news release:

“The favorable winter and spring weather conditions for the second consecutive year contributed strongly to another large increase in pheasants-per-mile,” stated Kelly Hepler, GFP Secretary. "This year's population index is more than double the 2013 level when hunters harvested just under one million pheasants. Although the index continues to lag behind the 10-year average due to the extremely high counts from 2005 through 2010, a second straight year of substantial gains in the index is great news for our hunting community."

From late July through mid-August, GFP surveyed 109, thirty-mile routes across the state to estimate pheasant production and calculate the PPM index. The survey is not a population estimate, but rather compares the number of pheasants observed on the routes and establishes trend information. Survey routes are grouped into 13 areas, based on a local city, and the index value of each local city area is then compared to index values of the previous year and the 10-year average.

Survey results indicate that pheasant numbers will again be highest along the Missouri River corridor in the broad regions around Winner, Chamberlain, Pierre and Mobridge. Great pheasant abundance also exists in the James River Valley in the regions near Mitchell, Huron and Aberdeen.

“Habitat continues to be at the forefront of the conversation and is a crucial factor in pheasant numbers,” stated Hepler. “Bird numbers are higher in parts of the state where quality habitat conditions still exist, primarily on grasslands including those enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program as well as fields of cereal crops such as winter wheat. We continue to work in cooperation with the Governor’s Habitat Work Group, landowners, partner organizations and agencies to provide an improved future for wildlife habitat in our state.”

South Dakota’s traditional statewide pheasant hunting season opens on Oct. 17 and runs through Jan. 3, 2016.

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