It’s that time of the year when turkeys are in the air and on fields and roads, exploring and looking for nuts, seeds and berries.

That makes this month the best time for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to conduct its annual Turkey Brood Survey, which can impact the hunting season.

“These counts are very important because it gives us an idea of how many poults, or baby turkeys, we have entering the population,” said Information and Education Biologist Ashley Malinowski. “We can use that information combined with harvest counts from the previous fall to monitor the population and aid in determining season dates and bag limits in the future.”

The count has been conducted annually in August by a band of loyal Department biologists, National Wild Turkey Federation members and citizens interested in assisting in the effort.

The count helps the Department track the hatch and builds an index into the annual productivity of Maine’s turkey population. Monitoring the population allows the Department to fine-tune wild turkey management, both in areas that already have a healthy, harvestable population and ones that have the potential for initial or additional hunting opportunities.

When considering whether to open an area to spring or fall turkey hunting, wildlife managers look closely at the August brood survey to determine the productivity of turkeys in that specific area.

From the count, biologists can determine how many turkey poults have survived to an age where they can be considered as contributing to the population.

Members of the public who are interested in participating in the count only need the ability to recognize a turkey and distinguish males from females and adults from poults.

When participants see a brood, they need to count all of the birds in a flock, determine how large the poults are in comparison with an adult, only count turkeys in the month of August and make sure not to count the same flock twice.

Participants can record their findings on a survey form available online. It’s also a great time to count for female deer and fawns too, which are both included on the same form.

“When members of the public tell us how many flocks they saw for the month and how many birds in each flock, that’s one less area our biologists have to spend resources to go out surveying,” Malinowski said. “It also allows us to get information from all over the state, including in places we may not travel regularly, but other people do. Citizen science, or studies in which the public’s information is called upon, is extremely important in a lot of biological surveys because any time you are counting things, the more eyes you have on the look-out, the better.”

To find a printable version of our August 2012 Turkey Brood Survey Form or to learn more about the Turkey Brood Survey, go to http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/turkey-broodsurvey_august.htm.

Logo courtesy of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

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