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Officials consider consolidating turkey hunting permit areas

Turkey hunters are being asked to provide input on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' proposal to consolidate the state's 77 spring turkey permit areas into nine larger areas.

"Our turkey populations are doing exceptionally well and we no longer have a need to manage turkey on such a small scale," said Bill Penning, farmland wildlife program leader. "These changes will provide flexibility and opportunity to hunters."

The changes will allow increased hunting access afforded by larger permit areas and will greatly simplify administration and population management. Permit numbers available to hunters are not affected by this proposal. The number of permits available in the new larger permit areas will essentially be the sum of all the permits from the original, smaller permit areas.

The Whitewater, Carlos Avery and Mille Lacs wildlife management areas would remain as separate turkey permit areas.

Hunter comments will be taken online only through Monday, Oct. 10. A map of the proposed turkey permit areas and a feedback form are available online. Additional comments can be emailed to wildlife.dnr

Public input will be reviewed and considered in October. A decision on the spring turkey season will be made in early November.

The wild turkey was extinct in Minnesota beginning about 1900 but reintroduction attempts beginning in 1971 have been successful. Today the wild turkey population thrives throughout the non-boreal forest portion of the state.

During the growth years it was imperative to tightly regulate hunting on a small geographical basis to ensure that populations could rapidly expand into new areas. Today this level of regulation is no longer necessary, according to DNR officials.