Cold, snow killing turkeys and deer, restricting hunting permits

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The cold and snowy winter has forced the state to allow less hunting for turkeys, and it could affect this year's deer hunting season.

Dennis Vanden Bloomen of Eau Claire said he's been hunting turkeys for about seven years.

“If I go out and see three birds and I shoot one, that's a great hunt,” he said.

But after the winter weather we've seen, that could be even more of a challenge this year.

“Although we think we're great hunters, the winter has more impact on turkeys than we do,” he said.

“It's been a very tough winter for wildlife in terms of the ability to find food, and their ability to maintain their fat reserves in the face of record low temperatures,” Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Bill Hogseth said.

Several reports of dead turkeys found in the state, prompted the department of natural resources to issue fewer turkey hunting permits for the spring season. Anyone who didn't already buy permits in zones 6 and 7 in northern Wisconsin, won't be able to hunt there. Over the counter permit sales in zones five and four, which includes Eau Claire County, were cut by one-fourth.

“I walked my property Tuesday. I saw no sign at all. That's bad because this is the second bad winter in a row,” Vanden Bloomen said.

The winter could also have lasting effects come deer season, with dead ones being found.

“There are reports that those deer have red bone marrow. That's a sign of low fat reserves and probably an indication that these deer are starving to death,” Hogseth said.

“Management units up in the north can probably expect some of them to see buck only units, with no antlerless permits available, due in response to the winter severity.”

Turkey hunting season begins Apr. 16. There's a turkey hunting class on Mar. 29. For more information, call (715) 828-4210.

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