Applications to hunt wild turkeys in Utah next spring will be available by Nov. 30. Applications will be available from hunting license agents statewide, Division of Wildlife Resources offices and the DWR's Web site (wildlife.utah.gov).
Hunters who have a major credit card can apply on the Web site.
"I'd encourage hunters to apply this way," said Judi Tutorow, wildlife licensing coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "Applying on the Internet is the easiest, fastest and most convenient way to get your application in."
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," Tutorow said. "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 through the mail no later than 5 p.m. on Dec. 27, or through the DWR's Web site no later than 11 p.m. on Dec. 27. Draw results will be posted by Feb. 2, 2005.
A total of 1,306 Rio Grande wild turkey permits, and 501 Merriam's wild turkey permits, will be available to the public. The number of permits available for each of Utah's wild turkey management units may be found in the 2005 Utah Wild Turkey Proclamation. The proclamation should be available at DWR offices, the DWR's Web site and from hunting license agents by late November.
Utah's 2005 wild turkey hunts will be held in April and May.
Hunters took 518 Rio Grande wild turkeys in Utah in 2004, for a success rate of 63 percent.
"That's a very high success rate, and we're really excited about it," says Dean Mitchell, DWR upland game coordinator.
Merriam's wild turkey hunters found good success in 2004, taking 185 Merriam's turkeys for a success rate of 36 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 management efforts.
In the past 12 months, 670 turkeys have been moved within Utah, to supplement existing turkey populations and start new ones. Another 711 Rio Grande wild turkeys were brought in from Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.
During the next 12 months, the number of birds biologists trap and transplant within Utah will be increased while the number of birds brought in from outside the state will be decreased. "Utah's wild turkey populations have increased to the point that there are now plenty of birds to trap and relocate within the state," Mitchell said. "It's also less expensive to move turkeys within Utah than to bring them in from outside the state."
Mitchell says 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.