State and federal wildlife officials announced this week that turkey season has been cancelled at three state Wildlife Management Areas and a National Wildlife Refuge in the south Delta due to high water and backwater flooding.

The Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks announced Wednesday that Lake George, Sunflower and Twin Oaks WMAs will be closed to hunting the rest of the season.

On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the season would remain closed at Panther Swamp NWR.

“We were getting ready to open the season on April 16 (as previously announced), but then we got that heavy rain on Monday and the water started backing up again at Panther Swamp,” said Dove Barnes, spokesperson for the Theodore Roosevelt NWR Complex headquarters near Yazoo City. “The refuge remains open, but no turkey hunting will be allowed. The rising water is pushing the birds out and on the levees and they have nowhere to go.”

MDWFP executive director Sam Polles signed an order on Tuesday after the agency’s staff recommended the three WMAs remain closed. The season opening had been delayed previously due to heavy rainfalls that have fallen in Mississippi, and particularly the lower Delta.

Both agencies said that enforcement presence will be increased in the affected areas to promote public safety for residents affected by the rising waters and to enforce wildlife laws.

Mississippi’s turkey season runs through May 1 in other areas.