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Fall turkey season set, online applications available June 9

North Dakota's fall turkey season is set with 5,755 licenses available to hunters, according to Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the state Game and Fish Department.

This year's figure is down 15 percent from last year, however, an additional 1,300 licenses may be used early this fall in specific hunting units if turkey reproduction is exceptionally good this spring.

Harvest and population data from hunting units in the southwest and along portions of the Missouri River indicate turkey numbers have decreased because of poor production and chick recruitment in 2008 and 2009.

"The decrease in the number of licenses this fall is consistent with our management strategy of reducing licenses when the population has fallen below normal levels within a unit," Kohn said.

Above-average snowfall the last two winters and normal rainfall this spring has greatly improved habitat conditions in much of the state, Kohn said.

"Turkeys will benefit from this improved nesting and brooding habitat," he said. "It should result in better production and increased brood survival in many parts of the state this summer, provided conditions ... are not too wet and cold."

An experimental hunting season will continue for the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Lab in Mandan. A maximum of 30 licenses will be available.

An experimental turkey bow hunting season will continue within the city of Bismarck to help control a growing population of birds in residential areas. A maximum of 25 licenses will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hunting units 21 (Hettinger and Adams counties) and 53 (Divide and Williams counties) will remain closed to fall turkey hunting in 2010 because of low turkey numbers.

The fall wild turkey season runs Oct. 9-Jan. 9.

Prospective hunters, including gratis applicants, can apply online, or print out an application to mail, beginning June 9 at the state Game and Fish Department's website, Paper applications will be available in mid June from Game and Fish Department offices, county auditors and license vendors.

Applications also are accepted at the department's toll-free licensing line, 800-406-6409, but a service fee will be added.

Applications for the fall season must be postmarked no later than June 30. Only residents are eligible to apply in the first lottery. Nonresidents can apply for licenses that are available following the first lottery.