Three-turkey spring limit could go statewide

The rest of Oregon's spring turkey hunters will get to enjoy what their Southern Oregon brethren have for years if a proposed increase in the spring turkey bag limits gets approved for 2016.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has proposed a three-tom statewide limit on spring turkeys as part of a suite of season and limit changes for the 2015-16 seasons with an eye toward making seasons and limits more consistent region to region in Oregon.

A similar effort is underway in ODFW's Fish Division, which has proposed a series of regulation changes to make trout and warmwater fish bag limits and open seasons more consistent statewide.

Dave Budreau, ODFW's upland game bird coordinator, says the proposed changes are coming in part to get spring turkey rules consistent statewide and to increase some hunting opportunities without threatening the population of these well established, non-native birds.

Fewer than 200 hunters currently buy a third tag for units where it is legal in Western Oregon, but the three-tag buyers still average about two birds per spring season, Budreau says.

"We don't think it'll result in more harvest and it simplifies the regulations."

The current statewide spring limit is two birds. Most of Western Oregon, including southwest Oregon, has the three-bird limit. The three-bird limit originated in turkey-rich southwest Oregon, and over time it has spread west of the Cascades, but not east of the Cascades.

The season will remain April 15 through May 31, and the one-turkey daily limit will remain.

No changes were proposed for the fall season or limits for turkeys.

The change will be discussed and voted upon by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission during its meeting today in Salem.

Also up for discussion and vote is the proposed aligning of quail, chukar and gray partridge closure dates in Eastern Oregon so they all close Jan. 31. Umatilla and Morrow seasons currently close Dec. 31.

The agency also has proposed extending the forest grouse season in Eastern Oregon through Jan. 31, making Jan. 31 a statewide closure date.

Also, state biologists have proposed allowing upland gamebird hunters to leave a wing or head on birds they harvest as evidence of sex and species. The rules currently state that hunters must leave the head for identification.

The commission also will be asked to end goose-check stations and check-in requirements for goose hunters and close the dusky Canada goose season in the highly regulated northwest Oregon region. In doing so, the agency has proposed combining the Northwest Permit and Northwest general zones, with all goose hunters in that region also required to retake and pass a revised goose identification test.

That zone also has a proposed recommendation to increase bag limits on white geese from four to six daily.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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