Hunting your own bird: Utah’s 2014 Fall turkey hunt

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MENDON, Utah -- For the first time in 40 years, hunters in Utah can harvest their own bird for Thanksgiving.

The Division of Wildlife Resources issued a small number of turkey permits to help control the bird population, which is butting up against many rural communities in Cache County.

Thousands of turkeys live in the mountains outside of Cache Valley, and when the snow gets deep, they waddle into towns like Mendon.

"Part of the reason is, my husband fed them all of our food storage. He felt sorry for them," Vicky Doolittle said. "He doesn't get to do that anymore. I've forbidden him."

The Division of Wildlife Resources is asking people not to feed the birds and encourages homeowners to cover their gardens.

Mendon residents said the turkey problem started ten years ago and keeps getting worse.

Last year, DWR crews captured and relocated 800 turkeys.

"Primarily, we capture those birds and move them to areas that they will do well in and won't get into trouble," said Jason Robinson, Upland Game Coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

To help with the nuisance issue, state biologists decided to allow a fall turkey hunt in addition to the spring hunt, but the state only allowed 73 permits in Northern Utah and 220 in Southern Utah to protect the resource.

"I think the hunt is a good idea, and I think they could give more permits, and thin them out a little," Doolittle said.

It's too early in the year to know how well it worked, but officials with DWR said they expect the fall turkey hunt to continue in the future.

The hunt spans from November 1 to December 31, and DWR expects many hunters to be out during the week of Thanksgiving.