|Arizona elk and deer numbers are down due to the resurgence of drought in the state, but the mild winter resulted in better turkey and tree squirrel survival.
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission considered the various hunting seasons for 2002-2003 at their April 13 meeting in Phoenix.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is recommending the commission establish 42,295 permits for the general deer seasons, which would be another record low. Most of the recommended deer permit reductions are in central and northern Arizona.
"In most areas of the state, deer need to have good rainfall in both winter and summer. Last year was about the only year in the last decade that we had good dual-season rainfall. Now we are back to having a winter and spring with near record low rainfall," advised Big Game Supervisor Brian Wakeling.
He added that Arizona needs back-to-back years of good rainfall, or perhaps multiple years of such rainfall, for the deer populations to recover significantly.
Although elk populations have not been impacted as drastically as deer, calf crops are down this year and the recommendation is for a 5,459-permit reduction from last year's record high.
"Elk are more adaptable than deer, but this drought resurgence is impacting their numbers as well," Wakeling said.
Turkey is the one bright spot. Wakeling explained that mild winters typically mean better survival for turkey, and often for tree squirrels as well. "The department is recommending the commission adopt a 450-permit increase in fall turkey tag numbers for the general season," Wakeling said.
Wakeling added that fall turkey hunters often hunt for squirrels at the same time. "This might be a good year to rediscover how much fun a turkey-squirrel combination can be, especially for those with youngsters."
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