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The PA Game Commission (PGC) again is looking for public help through the month of August for a turkey sighting survey. This is a citizen-science project where the number of adult male and female, and poult (young) turkeys are counted. The main goal of this project is to estimate how successful turkeys were during the spring breeding season in hatching and rearing poults. The turkey survey enhances the agency’s internal survey, which serves as a long-term index of turkey reproduction. Mary Jo Casalena, PGC wild-turkey biologist, explains: “By reporting all turkeys seen during each sighting, whether it’s gobblers, hens with broods, or hens without broods, the data help us determine total productivity and allow us to compare long-term reproductive success.”
Last year’s survey indicated a population of about 216,800; this is about average for the last five years. Since the early 2000s, when trap-and-transfer and other turkey conservation projects took place, the population ranged from a high of 280,000 to a low of just under 200,000. Many factors can affect turkey productivity, including spring weather, habitat, previous-winter food abundance, predation and last fall’s harvest.
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, consider participating in the survey. Landowners, hikers, fishermen, or anyone else who spots turkeys this month is encouraged to participate. You can even count turkeys from your kitchen window (but try not to count the same flock more than once). The survey consists of a simple on-line form found on PGC’s web site. You should be able to tell the difference among a male, a female and a poult. A link to the announcement on the PGC web site can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y7lnpnpf