Biologists are recommending the Arizona Game and Fish Commission modify the stratification design for the Spring Turkey Season to more evenly spread harvesting opportunities should late-winter storms or deep snow impact the earlier hunts.
"This year the department is recommending a change from the previous stratified structures. Rather than running two consecutive two-week seasons like we have in the past, we are recommending the first week of the season being exclusively for the first hunt, the second week being exclusively for the second hunt, with the final two weeks being available to those hunters who had not harvested a turkey in the first week of either season," explained Big Game Supervisor Brian Wakeling.
Wakeling added that his new stratification of the seasons would expand the number of days available to successful applicants, increase the flexibility in planning for hunt dates, and continue to keep hunter densities at low levels.
Biologists are recommending 5,096 permits, which is a 380-permit reduction from last year. "This reduction is a result of closing the season in Unit 3C in response to the potential influence of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire (320 permits), and reductions in Units 6A, 6B, and 17A/17B/18B," Wakeling said.
The fire is also impacting the recommendation for the Juniors-Only Turkey Season. Last year there were 180 permits offered. Because no junior permits will be offered in Unit 3C (30 permits were offered there last year), the number of permits the department is recommending this year is 150.
Permit recommendations for the Spring Javelina Season are made in an attempt to "equitably allocate" the javelina harvest among the various weapon types.
Application percentages by weapon type in 2002 were 43 percent General Firearm, 41 percent Archery, and 17 percent Handgun, Archery and Muzzleloader (HAM). Statewide hunter success rates for general firearm, archery and HAM hunters in 2002 were 28 percent, 32 percent and 20 percent respectively.
This year's recommendation is to increase general firearms javelina permits by 175 to 11,880, reduce archery permits by 50 to 9,615, and increase HAM permits by 450 to 7,050.
Department biologists are also recommending 460 juniors-only permits, which is an increase of 20 from last year. Juniors' permits comprise 1.6 percent of the total proposed javelina permits.
The commission implemented a spring buffalo season at Raymond Ranch Wildlife Area in 1994 to allow hunters to take buffalo in "trespass" status (off the ranch) that would otherwise have to be taken by Game and Fish personnel.
"The spring season structure has subsequently proven to be successful as a management tool on both the Raymond Ranch and House Rock Ranch wildlife areas, as well as being popular with hunters: more than 300 hunters applied for the four permits last year," Wakeling said.
The department is recommending four permits for the House Rock Ranch Wildlife Area herd and a single bull permit for the Raymond Ranch Wildlife Area.
The 2002 spring bear season was the twelfth year of offering a season that would remain open until either a specified number of female bears were reported harvested, or the season closed. That same format is being followed again this year.
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