The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has scheduled its annual public meetings next month to discuss proposed changes in hunting and fishing regulations.
The only controversial change is likely to be the proposal to shorten the spring turkey season in several counties and wildlife management areas in southeastern Oklahoma and reduce the bag limit there from two toms to one.
The counties where spring turkey season would be shortened are Coal, Pittsburg, Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain, Pushmataha, Choctaw and Atoka.
Under the proposal, spring turkey season in those southeast counties would start on the Monday following the third Saturday in April and run through May 6.
The month-long spring turkey season currently begins on April 6 statewide.
State wildlife officials proposed these same changes in May to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission to address population declines of wild turkeys in southeastern Oklahoma.
Population estimates on wild turkeys in southeastern Oklahoma were as high as 35,000 in 2005. Now, they are 19,000, said Joe Hemphill, southeast wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
At the time, the commission took no action on the Wildlife Department’s request as commissioners representing those counties questioned the data.
State wildlife officials then decided to wait and submit the proposed regulation change during the public hearing process to get input from hunters.
Public hearings are scheduled Jan. 4 in McAlester at the Kiamichi Vo-Tech and Jan. 6 in Idabel and Oklahoma City.
In Idabel, the hearing will be at the Kiamichi Vo-Tech while the Oklahoma City meeting will be held at the state Wildlife Department office, 1801 N. Lincoln.
All public hearings begin at 7 p.m.
Sportsmen can view all of the proposed regulation changes and comment online at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/publichearing.htm