Tennessee Bans Reaping Wild Turkeys on Public Land

In an try to gradual a well-documented decline in statewide turkey numbers, the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Fee is making some main changes to the laws that govern spring turkey looking within the Volunteer State. 

The modifications have been adopted on the finish of final week, throughout the fee’s June 3 assembly, and embody a two-week delay of the overall spring-season opener, a discount of the general bag restrict, a ban on fanning and reaping on Tennessee-owned wildlife administration areas, and a liberalization of looking and trapping seasons for animals that prey on the susceptible ground-nesting birds. 

A Later Opener Is Aimed toward Enhancing Nesting Success

After debating a shorter one-week delay of the spring season, a call to push the opener again by two full weeks was unanimously accepted by the state’s governor-appointed fee. The transfer was bolstered by the testimony of Jim Shields, the Turkey Program Coordinator for the Tennessee Wildlife Assets Company (TWRA). In response to Shields, a one-week delay wouldn’t enable sufficient time for Tennessee’s beleaguered birds to provoke their all-important nesting exercise. 

“By pushing it just one week, I don’t know that you just’ll have made a sufficiently big distinction to have an impact,” Shields mentioned throughout the meeting. “The nesting is form of a bell formed curve. Most of these nests are proper across the center of April, so in case you solely delay per week, you’re actually solely delaying hunter stress very early on these few early nests.”

Mike Butler of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation echoed Shields’ sentiments, saying that killing dominant toms early within the season might finally result in fewer hens being bred within the discipline. “Actually it’s in regards to the social construction of the breeding toms, and in contrast to quite a lot of different wildlife critters, what we’ve discovered is, once you shoot that dominant fowl, the second doesn’t simply step up,” he mentioned. “Including that delay, giving the most effective likelihood for birds to place nests on the bottom, is what we’d assist.”

With this modification, Tennessee’s normal spring turkey season will now start on April 15, whereas the youth season will probably be delayed till April 8. Particular quota turkey hunts on sure wildlife administration areas may also be delayed two weeks from conventional begin dates. 

Bag Restrict Decreased From Three Birds to Two

Later within the assembly, the fee voted to approve a discount within the turkey bag restrict from three male birds per season to 2. This modification additionally prohibits hunters from harvesting multiple jake per season. 

“I feel all of us sense the identical factor,” Commissioner Hank Wright of district 9 mentioned of the bag-limit changes. “We’re seeing fewer turkeys. We simply need to pull levers and make it higher.” 

The fee additionally loosened restrictions on a handful of species that prey closely on turkeys, extending seasons and bag limits for raccoons and opossums whereas folding bobcat looking alternatives into statewide deer seasons. 

Reaping Ban Applies Solely to Public Lands

Essentially the most contentious of Friday’s accepted modifications was the fee’s determination to ban the more and more controversial turkey looking method referred to as “reaping” (in addition to fanning) on all WMA land all through the state. The fee defines the apply as “looking or stalking wild turkeys whereas holding or utilizing for hunter concealment any of the next gadgets: a tail fan, a partial or full decoy with a tail fan or a tail fan mounted to a firearm.”

The TWRA says that reaping represents a big security danger to hunters within the discipline, and a few commissioners argued that the extraordinarily efficient apply has contributed to the state’s troubling turkey declines. Commissioner Invoice Cox introduced forth an modification to override the proposed ban on reaping, nevertheless, saying, “There’s no foundation apart from an emotional determination on this and a few enter from people who really feel like it’s harmful with no information to again that up. I don’t significantly like authorities sticking their nostril in my enterprise when there’s no justification for it.” 

Commissioner Wright disagreed with Cox, citing amplified security issues on crowded public land and the doable menace to turkey numbers that reaping would possibly pose. “Generally, I’m in opposition to regulating techniques, however I feel on this case, on non-public lands, we form of know who’s on our land, hopefully, and WMA’s, they’re extra crowded probably, and we don’t know who’s there,” Wright mentioned. “For questions of safety and likewise to go away extra longbeards on the panorama for different hunters to get pleasure from, I’m for banning it on WMAs and never on non-public lands.”

Finally the fee voted 9 to 3 to uphold the ban on reaping. All modifications to the spring turkey laws will probably be outlined within the 2022-23 Tennessee Searching Information, which will probably be accessible in mid-July. 

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