Ted Walski: 603-352-9669
Jane Vachon: 603-271-3211
May 9, 2012
Seen Any Wild Turkey Broods? Report Your Findings to Fish and Game!
CONCORD, N.H. -- The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is asking for the public's help in tracking wild turkey broods in New Hampshire this spring and summer. It's easy to take part. If you see groups of turkeys with young between May 15 and August 31, 2012, report your sightings to Fish and Game at its web-based turkey brood survey at www.wildnh.com/turkeybroodsurvey. This survey provides fish and game biologists with important information on turkey productivity, distribution, abundance, turkey brood survival and the timing of nesting and hatching.
“Last summer was the first year we held the online turkey brood survey and we were very pleased with the amount of public participation,” said Mark Ellingwood, the Wildlife Programs Administrator at N.H. Fish and Game. “We are excited to conduct the survey again this year and hope to increase the number of observations and number of towns where hen turkeys and poults are seen.”
In 2011, a total of 808 turkey broods were reported from all parts of the state between May and August. Over half of the brood sightings came from the southern part of the state, where populations are highest for both turkeys and people. This year, biologists are hoping to see an increase the number of reports of turkey broods in other areas, particularly in northern New Hampshire and along the western side of the state in Sullivan and Grafton counties.
The term “brood” refers to a family group of young turkeys accompanied by a hen. New Hampshire hens generally initiate egg-laying from mid-April to early May and complete their clutch of about 12 eggs in early to mid-May. Incubation lasts for 28 days, and most nests hatch from late May to mid-June. If incubating turkey eggs are destroyed or consumed by predators, hens often lay a replacement clutch of eggs that hatch late June through late July. Early spring weather is expected to result in an early hatch this year, as evidenced by several early May brood sightings. Reports of adult male turkeys are not being requested at this time.
Many factors can affect turkey productivity in any given year. Young turkeys are extremely sensitive to cool temperatures and rain, both because it can impact their health, and because these conditions adversely impact insect populations that are a critical source of nutrition for young turkeys. Since spring weather is highly variable, survival of the annual hatch of wild turkeys is also highly variable.
Turkey populations depend on a large annual influx of young turkeys to sustain themselves over time, so the number of young turkeys that survive to be “recruited” into the fall population is of great interest to turkey managers. A large sample of turkey brood observations collected throughout the summer can provide turkey managers with insight into the size of the “graduating class” of turkeys that will become adults. This explains why turkey managers throughout the country incorporate information from brood surveys into their management programs.
New this summer is a section of the survey intended to help assess public attitudes about wild turkeys in the state. Conducted in cooperation with the University of New Hampshire, data from the Summer Turkey Brood Survey and the recently completed 2012 Winter Turkey Flock Survey relating to public attitudes will be compiled and analyzed as part of a Master’s of Science project to assess public attitudes and interest in monitoring wild turkeys. It will also provide Fish and Game biologists with information that will enhance their ability to recruit and retain "citizen scientists." The combined use of biological and human dimensions surveys will aid both turkey management and promote public participation in wildlife management overall.
The public attitudes survey is an addendum to the 2012 Summer Turkey Brood survey and is optional. Participants who fill out the public attitudes survey can enter a drawing to win 1 of 2 prints titled “Mother’s Work Is Never Done,” which features a turkey hen and her chicks. The numbered and signed prints were graciously donated by New Hampshire wildlife artist Jim Collins, designer of the New Hampshire Conservation License Plate (moose plate) and several migratory waterfowl stamps.
Fish and Game relies on citizen participation to get as much turkey brood data as possible through this important survey. Results will be posted on the Department's website this fall. To report your turkey brood observations starting May 15, go to www.wildnh.com/turkeybroodsurvey. The survey will close on August 31, 2012.
Wildlife research and management in New Hampshire is funded in part by Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration, a user-pay, user-benefit program supported by your purchase of fishing tackle, firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and motorboat fuels.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats. Visit www.wildnh.com.
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