Utah's annual spring hunt for turkeys begins May 1, but the state Wildlife Resources Division has closed a portion of south-central Garfield County to the 21-day hunt.

Division Director Tim Provan said, acting under his emergency powers, he has posted the area off limits because wildlife managers recently transplanted Rio Grande turkeys on the lands.The posted area is basically east of Bryce Canyon National Park, and south and east of Henrieville to the Dixie National Forest.

The area was not listed as closed in the state's 1988-89 upland game proclamation because division officials were unsure whether the Rio Grande turkeys would be available from Texas, Carter said. The native birds in the area are Merriam turkeys.

Provan said, "Now that we know Rio Grande turkeys have been released there, we have an obligation to protect this breeding stock."

But Carter added, "The remainder of Garfield County will be open to turkey hunting through May 21."