PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — The Game Commission announced that they are asking for the public’s help finding turkey flocks to trap for ongoing turkey projects.
According to The Game Commision, Pennsylvanians are being encouraged to report the location of any turkey flocks they see between Jan. 4 and March 15. You can click here to report your information.
“Information about the location of that flock, the number of birds in that flock, whether they know whether turkeys in that flock are hens, gobblers, or both. All of that, like I said, the more detailed, the better,” said Travis Lau, Communications Director for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
If you are reporting a turkey flock, you will be asked to provide the date of the sighting, the location, and the type of land (public, private, or unknown) where the birds are seen, among other things.
Game Commission crews will visit the reported sites to assess them for the potential to trap turkeys. The turkeys won’t be moved from the location; however, crews will be placing leg bands on the turkeys and release them back into the wild.
Turkeys also may be outfitted with GPS transmitters if they are located in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), and then they will be released back into the wild to be monitored.
The Game Commission mentioned that trapping turkeys during the winter is part of ongoing population monitoring, as well as a large-scale turkey study.
If a hunter harvests a turkey, or finds a dead turkey, with a leg band, they are asked to report the band number by calling the toll-free number or emailing the Game Commission using the email address that is printed on the band.
“These data give us information on annual survival rates and annual spring harvest rates for our population model and provides the person reporting information on when and approximately where it was banded,” said Mary Jo Casalena, the Game Commission’s turkey biologist.
Alongside turkeys, the Game Commission is also attaching GPS transmitters to a sample of turkeys that are located in WMUs 2D, 3D, 4D, and 5C; on around 150 hens and 100 males total.
These four WMUs have very different landscapes, turkey population densities, and spring hunter and harvest densities.
“We’re studying turkey population and movement dynamics, disease prevalence, and other aspects that may limit populations” Casalena said.
Penn State University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Futures Program have partnered with the Game Commission to conduct the studies.
The study will focus on the following aspects:
- Population and movement: How landscape impacts hen nest rates, nest success, poult survival, predation, and habitat use and movement.
- Diseases: How disease prevalence varies based on landscape and impacts things like survival and nesting rates of hens of different ages. This is studied by collecting blood, tracheal, feces, and skin from turkeys the receive backpack-style transmitters at the time of the capture.
The study is set to continue next winter for both males and females, and through 2025 for hens. In the end the Game Commission will monitor more than 400 females and more than 200 males.
Penn State University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Futures Program researchers will interpret the data collected. Biologists from other states including Maryland, New Jersey, and Ohio are joining the study as well.
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“It is the largest turkey project we’ve ever conducted, with the hope of answering many questions regarding current turkey population dynamics,” Casalena said.
Last winter’s Wild Turkey Sighting Survey was extremely useful to staff for locating trappable flocks, Casalena said.
“The public was so helpful last year and even helped with monitoring sites and trapping,” Casalena said. “We really look forward to it expanding this winter.”