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Preliminary 2020 spring turkey harvest totals are up from 2019

Preliminary totals show Wisconsin turkey hunters registered 44,963 birds during the 2020 spring turkey hunting season, nearly a 17% increase from the 38,576 birds registered in the 2019 season.

The 2020 youth season resulted in a total of 2,880 birds registered, up 47% from 1,953 in 2019. Harvest increased significantly across all zones and time periods compared to 2019 levels.

Although snow was persistent this winter in the northern half of the state, there were few long-lasting cold snaps, favorable spring brooding conditions in 2019 and late standing crops in many areas of the state, leading to a healthy and robust turkey population entering the spring season. Weather conditions were optimal for almost every period of the 2020 turkey season.

“The 2020 spring turkey season represents the highest harvest since 2016 and the second-highest harvest since 2010,” said Mark Witecha, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. “Good weather and enhanced opportunity for hunters this season likely contributed some to increased harvest, but ultimately we continue to have one of the healthiest turkey flocks in the nation here in Wisconsin.”

A total of 224,452 harvest authorizations were issued for the 2020 spring turkey season, a 5% increase from 2019, with 132,037 harvest authorizations awarded through the drawing and 92,415 sold over the counter.

Zone 1, covering the southwestern quarter of the state, produced the highest overall harvest at 11,689 birds, followed by Zone 3 in central Wisconsin and Zone 2 in southeast Wisconsin. Hunters registered 11,264 birds in Zone 3 and 10,934 birds in Zone 2. Overall, the statewide success rate was 20% compared to 18.1% in 2019.

Zone 4, which includes all of Taylor County, ranked fourth with 6,986 turkeys registered, up from 5,978 last year. There were 34,968 harvest authorizations available in Zone 4, which includes western Lincoln County and northwestern Marathon County and extends westward all the way to the Minnesota border in Burnett, Polk, St. Croix, Pierce and Pepin counties.

The 2020 spring season started April 11 with the youth hunt. The regular season began April 15 and ran through May 26 with six separate time periods. Having separate periods allows for maximum hunter opportunities with a minimum amount of interference while ensuring a sustainable harvest.