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Hunters register 3,792 birds in 2019 fall turkey hunt

With another wild turkey season complete, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reports hunters registered 3,792 birds during the fall 2019 wild turkey season.

There were 74,775 harvest authorizations were issued for the 2019 fall season, an increase of 860 from 2018. Of those sold in 2019, 70,084 were awarded a fall turkey license and 4,691 were sold over the counter as bonus harvest authorizations.

As in 2018, the fall turkey drawing was waived in 2019. Anyone with a fall turkey license and stamp was awarded one harvest authorization for the zone of their choice. In addition to the harvest authorization included with a fall turkey license, a total of 13,000 bonus harvest authorizations were available for purchase in zones 1-4. With a difference of only 10 more birds registered, the fall harvest in 2019 was almost identical to 2018. There were 3,782 turkeys registered during the 2018 fall season. This season’s harvest success rate was 5.1%, also equal to 2018. The success rate is calculated based on the number of harvest authorizations sold and is not corrected for non-participation.

“Although this year’s fall harvest is nearly identical to 2018, over the last decade, we have seen a steady decline in the number of turkeys harvested in the fall,” said Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist. “Reductions in harvest over the last 10 years are largely due to a decline in hunter participation and effort. The annual fall hunter survey shows continued declines in fall turkey hunter numbers and a larger portion of those hunters are pursuing turkeys secondary to other species.”

The wild turkey is truly one of Wisconsin’s wildlife management success stories. A key role in the success of the wild turkey management program can be attributed to hunters through their purchase of the wild turkey stamp, which provides vital financial support in providing for future opportunities for turkey management and hunting in Wisconsin.

Since wild turkeys were first successfully reintroduced into Wisconsin in 1976, population levels continue to increase and expand statewide. Successful restoration of the wild turkey resulted from tremendous hunter and landowner support, good survival and high-quality habitat. The DNR first initiated a fall turkey season in 1989 after an increase and expansion of turkeys throughout the state. Since then, hunters have been able to pursue turkeys during both fall and spring seasons.