Research Associate: Susan Schroeder
Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) populations and hunting have increased greatly over time and hunting season management is in a state of change. For the last half decade, we have been moving from conservative management strategies that allowed the population to expand to strategies that increase turkey-hunting opportunities and minimize regulatory complexity while still sustaining a healthy turkey population.
A legislative report outlining future direction of turkey hunting management was completed in 2009. Most recommendations from that report have been adopted including permit area consolidation, expansion of over-the-counter license sales, electronic registration, and expanded youth and disabled hunt opportunities. However, the basic structure of the spring hunting season has remained relatively unchanged. Additional youth and disabled hunts have become cumbersome to administer. Stakeholders and wildlife managers are both suggesting changes to how we hunt turkeys in Minnesota now that the state is essentially fully occupied and populations in many areas have reached social or biological carrying capacities.
As most of the administrative changes have been made, a comprehensive survey is needed of turkey hunters before additional changes can be considered. A random survey of turkey hunter attitudes toward possible regulatory changes and further expansion of turkey hunting opportunity is needed to take this ‘next step’ in Minnesota turkey hunting season management.
The goal of our study is to enhance our understanding of turkey hunter attitudes and perceptions of regulatory alternatives. Specific objectives of this study are to:
- Critically evaluate Minnesota’s spring turkey hunting season and determine if changes are appropriate,
- Examine alternatives that provide more opportunity, improve hunter satisfaction, remain safe, and sustain the population at the goal level,
- Use study results to implement regulatory harvest changes that achieve hunter and turkey population objectives.