|Hunters took 482 Rio Grande wild turkeys in Utah in 2002, for a success rate of 55 percent. "That's a fantastic success rate and we're really excited about it," says Dean Mitchell, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
Merriam's wild turkey hunters also enjoyed good success in 2002, taking 302 Merriam's turkeys for a success rate of 49 percent.
Mitchell says most of Utah's wild turkey populations are flourishing because of aggressive efforts by the Division of Wildlife Resources to bring turkeys to Utah from out-of-state, to trap and transplant turkeys within the state, and to improve turkey habitat.
Conservation groups have pitched in, too, with groups such as the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Utah-based Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife providing much of the funding for the DWR's wild turkey efforts.
In the past 12 months, 871 turkeys have been moved within Utah to supplement existing turkey populations and start new ones, while another 484 Rio Grande wild turkeys were brought in from Kansas and South Dakota.
Wild turkey plans for the next 12 months include the continued trapping and transplanting of birds within Utah and bringing in as many wild turkeys as possible mostly Rio Grandes from out-of-state.
Mitchell says Utahns shouldn't expect to see the state's Merriam's turkey population grow much more. Most of the suitable ponderosa pine, mixed with aspen and oak habitat that the birds prefer in Utah, already has Merriam's turkeys.
The sky's the limit, though, when it comes to the number of Rio Grande turkeys Utah can support. Rio Grandes prefer riparian habitats consisting of cottonwood river bottoms that are usually adjacent to agricultural areas, and Utah has plenty of these.
For more information call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office, or the Division's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.
Copyright © 2002 J & D Outdoor Communications. All rights reserved.