At the March meeting, the CAB hurriedly voted to eliminate the fall turkey season statewide. In recent years, the CAB has whittled it down to only six counties with a fall turkey season. In our area, Talladega, Clay and Randolph counties have had a fall turkey season for decades.
When board members were asked why the fall turkey season was eliminated everyone gave conflicting reasons. Some said it would be difficult for reporting a turkey harvest for just six counties. Others said the season was not warranted. Some stated the CAB needed data on the turkey population.
According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, Alabama has the second highest population of wild turkeys in the nation. It is estimated there are 500,000 wild turkeys in our state. Back in the 1950s and 1960s Alabama helped stock other states with turkeys to expand the population. That is because the turkey numbers in most of Alabama were stable and we had a good reproduction rate.
During the CAB meeting in March, the only nay vote on the elimination of the fall season was by Gary Lemme. He asked current Conservation Chief of Wildlife Division Gary L. Moody if there was any biological reason to close the fall turkey season. Mr. Moody’s response was no. There was no other discussion and the vote was taken.
The only reason the CAB wants to close the fall turkey season is politics. The wildlife chief said there is no biological reason, the turkey population is high and there have been no reported turkey hunting safety issues during the fall season. The only conclusion we can draw from all of this is the decision is political.
Also, during the March meeting the CAB passed a regulation requiring mandatory reports of all deer and turkey taken in the state beginning in the 2013-2014 season. Bucks and does taken must be reported within 24 hours of harvest. The board gave three options to report. Hunters could call a toll-free number, go online at the Outdoor Alabama website or use a smart phone app than can be downloaded for free.
This ruffled the feathers of state Senator Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville. He has introduced legislation that would prohibit the mandatory deer and turkey harvest reporting system that was approved by the CAB. Sanford said hunting has nearly $1 billion annual economic impact for our state. He continued we should be working harder to promote and not at red tape for hunters.
Commissioner Guy has the final say as whether the CAB recommendations make it into effect.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com