- Associated Press - Saturday, January 26, 2019

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas will still allow hunters to kill turkeys this fall despite a call to suspend the season because the state’s wild turkey populations have been in decline for 15 years.

The Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission ignored a suggestion from a team of biologists and law enforcement officials to temporarily halt the fall turkey season, except for an area near the Nebraska border. The fall season, which runs from October through January, brings fewer hunters and less money than the spring season, the Wichita Eagle reported .

Kansas’ turkey hunting seasons have seen low numbers over the past decade. An estimated 70 percent of hunters bagged at least one turkey in the spring season in 2005. But more than half of the state’s hunters failed to bag a single turkey last spring.

The issue poses a threat to Kansas’ economy since the state has become one of the premier turkey hunting destinations in the U.S. Turkey hunters bring in more than $51 million a year.

Suspending the fall season would cost the wildlife department more than $150,000 in annual tag sales. The local economy would miss out on about $8 million.

But Kent Fricke, a Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Department official, said the fall season is one of the many factors driving down the state’s turkey population. Most of the other factors are out of the department’s control, such as a loss of quality habitat and weather.

Turkey hunters in the fall are legally permitted to kill hens and young turkeys, which removes those birds from the breeding population.

Fricke said a single fall turkey hunting season could eliminate tens of thousands of turkeys from the state’s breeding population within a few years.

Gerald Lauber, a fall turkey hunter and chairman of the wildlife commission, said the average of 350 hens killed in Kansas each fall “doesn’t make a difference.”

“I don’t view this number as having an overall effect,” he said.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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