If you see a flock of wild turkeys in New Hampshire this winter, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department wants you to report it via the online NH Wild Turkey Winter Flock Survey. Report any turkey flocks seen from January 1 through March 31, 2013, by filling out a simple electronic survey form posted on the Fish and Game website at http://www.wildnh.com/turkeysurvey. You can also find the survey anytime during the survey period by going to the Fish and Game website http://www.wildnh.com and clicking on “Turkey Survey.” Please do not report multiple sightings of the same flock.
Turkeys are easy to see during the winter because they gather in large, highly visible flocks. The winter flock survey bolsters Fish and Game’s understanding of the abundance and distribution of turkeys during New Hampshire’s challenging winter months. Participants are asked to report the number of turkeys in the flock; where they were seen; the type of habitat the birds were observed in; and what the turkeys were feeding on (acorns, beechnuts, seed at birdfeeders, corn silage, etc.).
The survey is designed to fill gaps in Fish and Game’s existing winter flock data collection efforts. “This reporting system allows the public to contribute important information to our understanding of winter turkey status in an inexpensive, efficient and, hopefully, enjoyable way,” said Ted Walski, Turkey Project Leader at Fish and Game. “For parts of the state, especially western and northern New Hampshire, we could benefit by additional reports of sightings.”
“We are particularly interested in observations from WMU’s A, B, C1, C2, E, F, I2, H1 and H2 – all of which had less than 25 flocks reported last winter,” said Walski. These WMUs represent towns in the North Country, along the Connecticut River, and throughout Cheshire County.
Knowledge of the status of wintering turkeys is particularly important in New Hampshire, because severe winter weather and limited natural food supplies can present serious challenges for wild turkeys.
Last winter, people responding to the survey reported 1,180 flocks totaling 20,295 turkeys from every corner of the state. Survey results are summarized at http://www.wildnh.com/turkeysurvey/reports_pdfs/Winter_2012_Turkey_Survey_Report.pdf.
Earlier this year, the NH Fish and Game conducted the second annual online Wild Turkey Summer Brood Survey to monitor hens and poults. The number of broods observed increased by about 38% from 811 broods in 2011 to 1,119 broods reported in 2012. The number of hens increased from 1,476 in 2011 to 2,430 in 2012, and the number of poults observed also increased from 7,076 in 2011 to 9,874 in 2012. However, the overall productivity dropped slightly from an estimated 4.8 poults per hen in 2011 to 4.1 poults per hen in 2012. The complete summary of the 2012 Summer Turkey Brood Survey can be found on the Fish and Game website at http://www.wildnh.com/turkeybroodsurvey/report_pdfs/2012_BROOD_SURVEY.pdf.
New Hampshire now has an estimated 45,000 wild turkeys. Their presence here is a true wildlife restoration success story. Wild turkeys had disappeared from New Hampshire by the mid-1800s because of overhunting and habitat loss from extensive land clearing. Their successful recovery in the state began with a reintroduction of 25 turkeys by N.H. Fish and Game in 1975.
Turkey research in New Hampshire is funded by the federal Wildlife Restoration Program, supported by the purchase of firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing supplies and motorboat fuel. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, in partnership with the public, works to conserve and manage the state’s fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats. Visit http://www.wildnh.com.
Image courtesy New Hampshire Fish and Game