We have been observing the decline in turkeys over a number of years and currently only a fraction of the numbers of several years ago. So why suddenly was Area J the only area in the northern lower to open a fall season to killing hens? As we started investigating, we have reason to believe that the decision was not unanimous among area biologists.
In 1996 Proposal G was passed that requires the DNR to manage our natural resources using SOUND SCIENCE. So what science is being used to manage our Wild Turkeys? The DNR district biologist for Area J was contacted. We asked him what are the number of turkeys in Area J? What are the desired number of turkeys taken to meet the management goal? What is the management goal? It appears that there are no answers to these questions. The season was established using previous harvest surveys. 1,500 permits are available.
The results of the 2012 spring turkey season survey was reviewed. It was broken down between the limited quota hunts and the 234 hunt. In combining the two 12 percent thought the turkey numbers were increasing in Area J, 37 percent thought they were decreasing, 35 percent thought they were stable and 15 percent unknown. 35 percent stable meant that turkey numbers had not increased from the seasons that were closed due to low numbers. The survey showed that 72 percent of the hunters said that the turkeys were either in further decline or remained at the same level as the previous year. If the DNR doesn’t know how many turkeys there are how can they have a season to kill hens to meet and unknown goal? They had overwhelming proof from the survey that a fall hunting season is not justified. Apparently hunter surveys are meaningless unless it proves a point in the DNR’s favor.
A DNR wildlife staff person in Lansing was contacted and asked for specific biological information to back up a fall season. There is none. What happened to Proposal G that dictates managing our natural resources using SOUND SCIENCE?
We have been observing the decline of turkeys within the three county area of fall season Area HA. For the past several seasons we have been attempting to eliminate the fall hunt until the population builds back up, only to fall on deaf ears. The DNR wildlife division can survey everything from warblers, grouse and frogs but not Wild Turkeys, yet we are killing hens to meet management goals. Scientific wildlife management? Where?
Those of us who have been hunting over the past half century or more have seen a significant decline in wildlife, not only generally but especially within our public forests.
The motto that we are managing our natural resources for future generations is hollow.