Columbia, SC — During my 31 years at the Department of Natural Resources, my fellow employees and I worked hard to protect the best interests of wildlife and those who enjoy the outdoors. Today, the agency supports causes that go against its own scientific data.
The agency’s silence on H.4838, which lengthens the spring turkey season, has been deafening. The agency’s web site (go to dnr.sc.gov and follow link to turkey, then to setting spring turkey seasons) explains that a committee of wildlife biologists from each region worked to set the current season structure; I had some input into that document. The proposed change is wrong biologically and against the best interests of turkey hunters. A March 20 opening statewide will have a detrimental effect on breeding, nesting and reproduction for the wild turkey.
The bill includes a reduction in the bag limit from five male turkeys to three, which has been advocated by biologists and hunters for many years and would improve turkey management in our state. Apparently the Department of Natural Resources believes that a reduction in the bag limit is worth bargaining away two weeks. The National Wild Turkey Federation seems to be silent on the bill as well.
The people pushing this bill obviously do not know how special it is to honorably pursue a mature gobbler. The latitude of the Upstate makes April the best month to celebrate the spring, particularly for turkey hunters. It has worked well for 40 years. Now we will fix what is not broken. What’s next?