Applications to hunt wild turkeys in Utah next spring will be available beginning Dec. 3. These applications will be available from hunting license agents statewide, Division of Wildlife Resource offices and the DWR's Internet website at www.wildlife.utah.gov.
Hunters who have a credit card may apply on the web site. Hunters who don't have a major credit card must mail their application in.
"Hunters are reminded that it will take a few days for the application to arrive in the mail," explained Judi Tutorow, wildlife licensing coordinator for the DWR. "We encourage them to obtain an application as soon as they're available, and to mail it back as soon as possible."
To be entered in the draw for permits, applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Dec. 30. Draw results will be posted by Feb. 4, 2003.
A total of 724 Rio Grande wild turkey permits, and 550 Merriam's wild turkey permits, will be available. The number of permits available for each of Utah's wild turkey management units may be found in the 2003 Utah wild turkey addendum which is currently available at DWR offices, and the DWR's Internet web site. The addendums will also be available from hunting license agents in late November.
Utah's early season spring wild turkey hunts begin in late March, while late season hunts begin in late April or early May. Some units feature early, mid and late season hunts during those months.
Hunters took 482 Rio Grande wild turkeys in Utah in 2002, for a success rate of 55 percent.
"That's a fantastic success rate and we're really excited about it," stated Dean Mitchell, upland game coordinator for the DWR.
Merriam's wild turkey hunters also enjoyed good success in 2002, taking 302 Merriam's turkeys for a success rate of 49 percent.
Mitchell says most of Utah's wild turkey populations are flourishing because of aggressive efforts by the DWR to bring turkeys to Utah from out-of-state, to trap and transplant turkeys within the state, and to improve turkey habitat.
Conservation groups have pitched in, too, with groups such as the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Utah-based Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife providing much of the funding for the DWR's wild turkey efforts.
In the past 12 months 871 turkeys have been moved within Utah, to supplement existing turkey populations and start new ones, while another 484 Rio Grande wild turkeys were brought in from Kansas and South Dakota.
Wild turkey plans for the next 12 months include the continued trapping and transplanting of birds within Utah and bringing in as many wild turkeys as possible, mostly Rio Grandes, from out-of-state.
Mitchell says that Utahns shouldn't expect to see the state's Merriam's turkey population grow much more. Most of the suitable ponderosa pine, mixed with aspen and oak habitat that the birds prefer in Utah, already has Merriam's turkeys.
The sky's the limit, though, when it comes to the number of Rio Grande turkeys Utah can support. Rio Grandes prefer riparian habitats consisting of cottonwood river bottoms that are usually adjacent to agricultural areas, and Utah has plenty of these.
For more information regarding Utah turkeys and upcoming turkey hunts, call the nearest DWR office.