OLYMPIA -- Hunters gearing up for the start of the wild turkey season can take up to five birds this year - but not all during the spring season.

Although the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission recently expanded harvest opportunities for turkeys this fall, only three birds may be harvested during the 2006 spring season, which runs April 15 to May 15.

During the spring hunt, two birds can be taken in eastern Washington - only one of which may be harvested in the area that includes Chelan, Kittitas, and Yakima counties. Two turkeys may be taken in Klickitat County. Only one turkey may be harvested in western Washington.

"We want to make it clear to hunters that the 2006 spring season has a three-turkey bag limit, which is identical to last year," said Mick Cope, upland game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "But because of an increase in the turkey population, we have added further opportunities this fall for hunters to harvest two additional turkeys."

In early fall, hunters will have an opportunity to participate in an early fall general hunt in northeast Washington and special permit-only hunts. Those hunts open Sept. 23 and go through Oct. 6. Hunters are limited to a total of one turkey during this early fall season. A total of 725 permits will be available for the special permit hunts in select game management units in eastern Washington, including Klickitat County.

In northeast Washington, the commission created a new late-fall hunt that will run Nov. 20 to Dec. 15 in game management units 101 through 124. A total of 800 permits will be available for the hunt, which has a one-turkey limit.

Next year, the spring turkey hunt will be about two weeks longer, lasting through the end of May 2007.

Permit applications for this year's special hunts will be available mid-May at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov or at license dealers.

Hunters also can purchase small game licenses and turkey tags at license dealers or at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.

Turkey hunting details will be available mid-May on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov.