Flooding of the Mississippi River delta over the past several years has resulted in changes to turkey-hunting season changes on wildlife management areas in the southern reaches of that popular area of the state, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks announced earlier this month.

These changes impact Mahannah, Shipland, Sunflower and Twin Oaks WMAs.

Mahannah and Shipland WMAs will be closed to turkey hunting during the 2012 spring season, the MDWFP said.

Twin Oaks WMA hunting will be on a draw-only basis during the April 2-30 season, the agency reported.

The season structure for Sunflower WMA will be:

• April 2-8 - youth hunting by permit only
• April 9-15 - hunting by permit only
• April 16-May - regular turkey season

Biologists said these changes were forced because of flooding of the Delta in 2008, 2009 and 2011 during the spring nesting season.

"This combination of events has caused turkey populations within the Delta to decline, and created a unique situation where harvest during the 2012 season will be primarily limited to gobblers hatched during 2010," the MDWFP release read. "Excessive harvest of this cohort of gobblers could diminish future turkey-hunting quality until adequate reproduction allows population levels to rebound. "

The MDWFP has not proposed season framework changes to private lands of the flood-prone Delta region; however, officials urge private land hunters to be conservative with their harvest and recognize that the degree of carry-over from the 2012 spring season will determine hunting quality for subsequent years.