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Commission votes to extend fall turkey season

Southern Oregon's upland game-bird hunters could shoot their Christmas turkey on Christmas eve beginning this year under new rules that lengthen the fall turkey season.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday voted to extend the fall turkey season through December. The season recently has closed at the end of November.

The general fall turkey season opens Oct. 15 and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to sell a maximum of 3,000 tags. Hunters can fill one tag in the season, and the bag limit remains one turkey of either sex.

Tags will go one sale in late September and remain available throughout the season or when the 3,000-tag limit is reached.

The fall season is open in Jackson, Josephine, Coos, Curry, and Douglas counties ' the region of southwest Oregon considered a hotbed for the Rio Grande turkeys first introduced here more than a century ago. Hunting also occurs in four Willamette Valley counties as well.

— The birds are listed as an exotic species, though some archeological records show that turkeys once may have been present in the Fort Rock area.

The fall turkey season expansion is just one of many seasons the commission set last Friday.

The commission adopted a 107-day duck season and a liberal goose season as expected, marking the eighth straight year of the longest duck season in Oregon as allowed by federal migratory bird treaties.

Southwest Oregon counties, including Jackson and Josephine counties, again will have a September season for Canada geese, with a limit of five Canada geese a day. The early goose season will run Sept. 10-15.

For the Zone — counties in western and parts of northern Oregon, the season opens Oct. 15 (the third Saturday of the month) and runs through Oct. 30 (the final Sunday of October). After taking two days off to account for the youth hunt, waterfowl hunting will re-open Nov. 2 and run through Jan. 29, 2006.

The later start allows for more late-season dates, which generally are considered better in western Oregon.

Since early-season dates are considered better in Klamath, Harney and the other Zone 2 duck-hunting counties of eastern Oregon, the duck season there runs Oct. 8-Dec. 6, then Dec. 9 through Jan. 22, 2006.

The daily limits for both zones remain seven ducks, with sub-limits of two hen mallards, one pintail, one canvasback, two redheads and four scaup.

For goose hunters, the proposed season opens Oct. 8 and runs through Nov. 29 in Klamath, Lake, Harney and Malheur counties. After a break, it reopens Dec. 15 and runs through Jan. 29, 2006.

Waterfowl season regulations will be available Aug. 20 at ODFW offices and license agents statewide.

Also, the strip of farmlands west of Highway 101 in most of Oregon will be open to waterfowl hunting, and hunters there will be able to harvest Aleutian cackling geese as part of their daily limits.

The Aleutians were officially removed last Friday from the state endangered species rolls, opening hunting for them. The birds were removed from the federal endangered species list in 2001 and California has allowed Aleutian goose hunting the past two years.

A technicality in Oregon's state Endangered Species Act banned their removal from protection until this year, when Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed a bill ordering the commission to remove the bird from the state list.

Under the new rules, all lands west of Highway 101, except those in Tillamook County, will be open to waterfowl hunting.

Some upland game-bird hunting seasons also are knew for this year.

The commission last Friday adopted the state's sage grouse conservation plan and approved 1,300 sage grouse hunting permits in 13 hunting units as called for under the plan.

Hunters have until Aug. 29 to submit controlled-hunt applications for sage grouse hunting this year.

Chukar hunters in Baker County last Friday had their upcoming season expanded when the commission expanded this year's season through January. The season previously closed at the end of December.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail Commission votes to extend fall turkey season"mfreeman@mailtribune.com.