DEC seeks landowners to help study wild turkeys hens

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is looking for landowners who want to help with the second year of a research project on the survival of wild turkey hens.

“Wild turkeys are the most popular small game species in New York among hunters afield,” Commissioner Joe Martens said in a release from the DEC. “The data generated by this study will provide valuable information on turkey survival rates and population size to help guide future management of this important game species….”

Over the past 10 years, wild turkey populations have declined in many parts of New York State, according to the DEC. In an effort to better understand the factors influencing population changes and how these changes affect turkey management, the DEC is beginning the second year of a four-year study.

This project will provide wildlife managers with current estimates of harvest and survival rates for female wild turkeys, or hens, in New York and guide future management efforts.

Beginning in January, the DEC will embark on a statewide effort to capture wild turkey hens and fit them with leg bands to obtain accurate data on those that survive and those that are killed by hunters.  A small number of these birds will also be tagged with satellite radio-transmitters. 

All of the work will be done by DEC personnel on both public and private lands from January through March.  The research will be concentrated in DEC regions 3 through 9, which includes Albany County in Region 4, where turkey populations are largest.

From 2006 through 2009, DEC staff worked with landowners from across the state to assess kill and survival rates of male wild turkeys, known as gobblers.  Hundreds of landowners participated in that study or provided reports of winter turkey flocks.

The DEC is looking for landowners in regions 3 through 9 interested in allowing birds to be trapped on their land, as well as alerting project coordinators when they regularly see turkeys on their property.  Once turkeys are trapped and banded, they will immediately be released at the same location.

Not all locations are suitable for deploying capture equipment, so landowners should contact their regional project coordinator to discuss the suitability of their property. Observations of turkey flocks during January through March can be reported to the project coordinator for that region or can be reported using the Winter Flock Survey form found on the DEC’s website at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/48756.html.

For more information on this project, Albany County residents should call Karl Parker at 357-2154 or contact the DEC by e-mail at fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us. “Turkey Study” should be listed as the subject line in any e-mails.

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