Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commissioners voted to reduce or alter wild turkey hunting bag limits in large areas of western Oklahoma during their regular June 17 meeting in Oklahoma City.
Starting this fall, turkey gun hunters will be allowed to harvest one tom only in the 14 counties that previously permitted either-sex harvest. Archery hunters will still be allowed one turkey of either sex statewide in the fall.
Next spring, all counties outside the Southeast Region will have a one tom limit. The spring turkey season limit remains unchanged at three toms. None of the changes made will affect existing regulations in the Southeast Region for turkey hunting, where the season limit is one tom turkey for all eight counties combined.
Chief of Wildlife Bill Dinkines told Commissioners declining turkey numbers during the past two years, especially in southwestern Oklahoma, prompted the bag limit changes.
Also during Wednesday’s meeting, Commissioners voted to immediately prohibit all recreational hunting of feral swine on four wildlife management areas: Kaw, Sandy Sanders, Hackberry Flat, and Waurika. The prohibition supports efforts of the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in those areas. Officials said eradication efforts in those areas will be more effective without feral hog hunting.
In other business, Commissioners:
Approved a Fiscal Year 2021 budget totaling $63.8 million, which is a 17 percent decrease from the FY 2020 budget of $76.8 million.
Approved emergency rules establishing regulations for the new Sandhills Wildlife Management Area, which will allow hunting and public use of the 5,200-acre WMA in Woods County.
Heard Director J.D. Strong’s regular Department report, including a notice that this meeting would be the final regular meeting for John D. Groendyke of Enid, who decided not to seek another appointment after serving 44 years on the Wildlife Conservation Commission. Strong said a formal recognition of Groendyke’s service to the Wildlife Department is planned this fall.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.
The next scheduled Commission meeting is set for 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, at Wildlife Department headquarters, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City.