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Contact: Al Stewart, 517-373-1263

Spring turkey hunting application period starts Jan. 1

State conservation officials today reminded hunters the application period for the 2004 spring wild turkey hunting season is Jan. 1 through Feb. 1, 2004. The spring hunting season runs April 19 through May 31, with various hunting periods ranging in length from seven to 28 days.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers 111,720 licenses, available through a lottery, with more than 44,000 square miles open to spring wild turkey hunting throughout the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

Hunters again have the option of applying for Hunt Unit ZZ, which includes all private-land units in southern Michigan. Hunters who draw this license may hunt the first two weeks of the season on private land anywhere in the unit. Hunters looking for the greatest hunting flexibility should check out the guaranteed hunt period (Hunt No. 234, May 3-31), which includes all open areas, except public lands in Unit ZZ.

Again this year, Hunt No. 234 may be purchased during the application period. Individuals who select this option will not be charged the $4.00 application fee. Hunters also may select this hunt as a second choice on their application.

“Michigan’s spring turkey hunting regulations are established to maximize hunting opportunity while maintaining high quality hunting experiences,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. “We have expanded hunting opportunities based on the success of the wild turkey restoration program.”

Hunters may apply for and purchase a turkey hunting license at any authorized license dealer, DNR customer service kiosk, DNR Operations Service Centers, or via the Internet at www.michigan.gov/dnr. It costs $4 to apply for a spring turkey hunting license. This nonrefundable application fee must be paid at the time of application and does not include the cost of the license. During the application process, it is important that hunters verify their customer ID (Michigan Driver License, DNR Sportcard or State of Michigan ID card) numbers. An incorrect customer ID number will cause individuals to become ineligible for a license.

When applying online with the DNR e-license system, hunters may use MasterCard and VISA to charge their purchase, and applications can be purchased through e-license 24 hours a day during the application period. Applicants may check drawing results on the Internet beginning March 1. All applicants, except those who applied on-line, will be notified by mail before March 5.

If licenses are still available after the drawing, the remaining licenses will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis to unsuccessful applicants in the license lottery. These individuals may purchase one leftover license in person at any license-issuing agent beginning March 8 at 10 a.m. (EDT). The guaranteed hunt period (Hunt Number 234) is also available to unsuccessful applicants.

To help monitor wild turkey populations, the DNR asks residents to report all sightings of wild turkeys during the month of January.

Survey information is used to help determine the distribution of wild turkeys throughout the state and to assist with wild turkey management. Local biologists may follow-up on new sightings to expand their knowledge of bird distribution in their Management Unit.

A variety of methods are utilized to monitor turkey populations: mail surveys, turkey observation surveys by employees, and hunter check station surveys. The cooperation received from hunters and residents through observation reports provides enormous support to the management of wild turkeys.

To report wild turkey sightings, contact any DNR office or complete the observation form on the DNR web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr. Click "Wildlife and Habitat," then "Report Wildlife Observations," then "Wild Turkey."

Restoration of the wild turkey in Michigan is a wildlife success story of major importance. At the turn of the 20th Century, Michigan did not have wild turkeys; today they can be found in nearly every corner of the state. Currently, there are more than 150,000 wild turkeys in Michigan, and the population continues to expand.
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