From the Arizona Game and Fish Commission
-- Unique conditions resulting from the Wallow Fire has prompted the Game and Fish Commission to reduce the number of permits issued through the draw for the fall turkey season in Game Management Units 1 and 27.
For the upcoming drawing cycle, there are now only 200 permits allocated for hunt number 4501 in Unit 1, a reduction of 475 permits. Unit 27 permits for hunt number 4518 is now set at 300, a reduction of 600. This is a total reduction of 1,075 hunt permit-tags.
Applicants for either of these hunt numbers in the upcoming fall drawing do not need to take any action. The draw runs as normal and will only issue the number of tags as amended by the Commission. Applicants not drawn will receive a bonus point.
The decision does not affect non-permit tags purchased over the counter for archery only and juniors only fall turkey hunts.
The Wallow Fire burned approximately 49 percent of Unit 1 and 28 percent of Unit 27; however, the fire damaged more than 75 percent of the primary turkey habitat in these two units, according to Brian Wakeling, game branch chief. To compound the conditions, the fire happened right when turkeys were coming off their nests.
Merriams turkeys are upland, gallinaceous game birds. Their populations can fluctuate dramatically annually. They have a relatively short life span, and are more susceptible to population impacts from wildfire than deer and elk.
Game and Fish continues to work with the U.S. Forest Service to allow hunters access into units 1 and 27 for upcoming fall hunts. For more information about wildfires and wildlife in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/wildfires.