The Conservation Advisory Board (CAB) on Saturday did not approve recommended changes suggested by the Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division for the 2022 Alabama turkey season, and instead the CAB recommended its own changes that were less impactful to seasons and regulations for turkey hunters.
By a 6-2 vote with two board members abstaining, the board voted to:
• Delay the start of the 45-day Alabama turkey season in 2022 until March 25. (The 2021 season begins on March 20 in most parts of the state.)
• Prohibit the use of decoys and fans for the first 10 days of the 2022 season.
• Drop the bag limit from five to four birds for the 2022 Alabama turkey season.
WFF had recommended a season that wouldn’t begin until April 1, allowing just one gobbler during the first 10 days of the season, and keeping the current five-bird limit per hunter for the season.
The board will meet again on a yet-undecided date in May to officially vote on the changes.
Any changes would not affect the 2021 turkey season in Alabama, which begins later this month.
Board member Patrick Cagle, of Montgomery, recommended the changes to the board that the members ultimately approved. He also asked ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship to establish a turkey study committee to review existing turkey research and recommend areas for future research. He also asked for the committee to present its findings to the board.
At the CAB meeting last August, when asked for a recommendation on the future turkey season by Chairman Dobbs, WWF Director Chuck Sykes said, “I would ask the Board to move the season starting date to as late as possible with a three-bird bag limit. The sooner we can take proactive solutions, the better. I don’t want to kick this can down the road any farther.”
See Full Transcript Of August Board Meeting
Research from university biologists who specialize in studying a widespread decline in turkey nesting and poult-rearing success recommend that turkey seasons in southern states not open until the majority of hens have finished laying eggs and are sitting full-time on nests. Dominant gobblers being killed before hens are nesting can disrupt the breeding hierarchy. Researchers feel this is leading to poor nesting success and could be a primary cause of wild turkey poult counts plummeting in the past two decades.
From The Research Biologist: Things To Consider When Setting Regs For Spring Wild Turkey Season
During the public discussion part of the CAB meeting this weekend, several turkey hunters and representatives from turkey hunting groups expressed both support and displeasure with the changes. Opinions from hunters seem to be all over the board on the issue of turkey seasons and regulations. Below are the results of AON’s annual VOTES survey last spring.
In the coming days, AON will publish the full transcripts of the August 2020 Conservation Advisory Board meeting, when a biologist presented data and research to the Board supporting a later start to the turkey season opening day, which biologists feel would improve nesting success and poult production.
About the CAB: The Conservation Advisory Board is composed of 10 members appointed by the Governor for alternating terms of six years, and three ex-officio members in the persons of the Governor, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries and the Director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. The Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources serves as the ex-officio secretary of the board.
The Advisory Board assists in formulating policies for the Department of Conservation, examines all rules and regulations and makes recommendations for their change or amendment. By a two-thirds vote of the members present and with the governor’s approval, the Board can amend, make any changes, repeal or create and promulgate additional rules and regulations. The Board also assists in publicizing the department’s programs and activities.