See any wild turkeys? Let the Game Commission know

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

If you see a gobble, gobble here and a gobble, gobble there, the Pennsylvania Game Commission wants to hear from you. 

The commission is looking for public input in surveying the wild turkey population in the state. The Pennsylvania Wild Turkey Sighting Survey runs through Aug. 31. 

Survey data allows the agency to determine the total wild turkey productivity and compare long-term reproductive success within Pennsylvania. Participation in the survey is important for management of the turkey population and to track population trends. 

Turkey sightings can be reported through the Game Commission’s website, https://pgcdatacollection.pa.gov/TurkeyBroodSurvey

Hunting for a wild turkey in Pennsylvania can be a dangerous endeavor.

Participants are asked to record the number of wild turkeys they see, along with the location, date and their contact information in case agency biologists have any questions. Viewers can also access results from previous years. 

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Commission turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena said in a statement that the survey enhances the commission's internal survey and helps shape the state's turkey population model.

“Participants should report all turkeys seen, whether gobblers, hens with broods, or hens without broods," Casalena said in the statement.

A number of factors, including spring weather, habitat, food availability during the previous winter, predation and last fall’s harvest, affect wild turkey populations. Weather across Pennsylvania during late spring and summer 2021 was relatively warm and dry, but it varied by wildlife management unit. 

The state turkey population saw above-average reproductive success last summer (3.1 poults per hen), coupled with a more conservative fall 2021 turkey hunting seasons (shorter seasons in most WMUs and elimination of rifles) allowed for higher turkey survival into the 2022 spring breeding season.  

Reproductive success in surrounding states for 2021 was less than 3 poults per hen in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, but 3.0 or higher in New Jersey and New York. 

“Thanks to the popularity of this survey in Pennsylvania, we have high confidence in our estimates,” Casalena emphasized in the statement. “Let’s maintain these results in 2022 and even increase participation.” 

— Reach Anthony Maenza at amaenza@yorkdispatch.com or @atmaenza on Twitter. 

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