Texas Mulls Closing 2012 Spring Turkey Season in 15 Counties

The state of Texas is considering closing the 2012 spring turkey season in fifteen Texas counties.

From this story in the Cherokeean.com:
_The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is considering a regulation change that would close the spring Eastern turkey season in 15 East Texas counties in 2012. Counties being considered for hunting season closure and further restocking consideration include: Cherokee, Delta, Gregg, Hardin, Houston, Hunt, Liberty, Montgomery, Rains, Rusk, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Tyler and Walker. In 28 other counties, the decision would delay the spring Eastern turkey season by two weeks. To give the public an opportunity to weigh in on these considerations prior to any official proposed regulation change in 2012, TPWD is holding scoping meetings during the first week in January.
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_In some areas, field observations indicate turkey populations continue to thrive and harvest data collected through mandatory check stations confirm ample hunting opportunity. But, in some counties, the telltale "gobble, gobble, gobble" of a big tom courting hens has gone silent, which has wildlife biologists concerned. "We use the data collected from mandatory check stations as a trigger point in identifying areas of concern and in some of these counties, like Smith County, we haven't had any harvest in 12 years," said Jason Hardin, TPWD's turkey program leader. "That tells us there are very few birds out there and we need to protect them, and where possible, go back into those counties and use our new super stocking program.

"By closing hunting seasons, we create an opportunity to stock birds, where habitat is available, and reduce the potential for loss of brood stock before the population is capable of sustaining harvest." Unlike earlier block stocking efforts to reintroduce turkeys into an area that relied on a few gobblers and hens to establish viable flocks of turkeys, the process for reintroduction has been refined through research to determine appropriate numbers and ratios of birds needed. Mr. Hardin said the delay would give hens time to begin nesting prior to the season opening. In the 15 East Texas counties under consideration, not only were birds not being harvested, they weren't being seen, either. "When populations in those counties can sustain hunting, we will reopen," Mr. Hardin added
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Your thoughts? Texas isn't the only state to see significant decreases in its Eastern turkey populations. Just to the north in Oklahoma, easterns have experienced a decline as well. Have you seen something similar in your area? Any idea why?