From the Arizona Game Commission
-- Because of the unique conditions resulting from the Wallow Fire, the Game and Fish Commission has reduced the number of permits available in Units 1 and 17 for tall turkey season.
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 will run as normal, and will only issue the number of tags as amended by the commission. Those applicants not drawn will receive a bonus point.
This 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. The fire occurred when turkeys were coming off their nests, which dramatically impacted flightless, young turkeys.
Merriams turkeys are upland, gallinaceous game birds. Their populations can fluctuate dramatically annually, have a relatively short life span, and are much like small game such as quail and squirrel. They are much more susceptible to population impacts from wildfires than larger mammal ungulates like deer and elk.
The regional staff field observations indicate there was nearly no new recruitment of turkeys in these areas.
Biologists expect all other species can sustain planned hunting without any biological issues, and conditions should still provide good hunting conditions in many areas.
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. To learn more about wildfires and wildlife in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/wildfire.