CONCORD — The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is currently conducting a NH Wild Turkey Winter Flock Survey through March 31. Citizens who pass a wild flock of turkeys are encouraged to fill out a simple electronic survey form posted on the Fish and Game website at http://www.wildnh.com/turkeysurvey.
Turkeys are easy to see during the winter because they gather in large, highly visible flocks. The winter flock survey bolsters Fish and Game's understanding of the abundance and distribution of turkeys during New Hampshire's challenging winter months. Participants are asked to report the number of turkeys in the flock; where they were seen; the type of habitat the birds were observed in; and what the turkeys were feeding on.
The survey is designed to fill gaps in Fish and Game's existing winter flock data collection efforts. "This reporting system allows the public to contribute important information to our understanding of winter turkey status in an inexpensive, efficient and, hopefully, enjoyable way," said Ted Walski, Turkey Project Leader at Fish and Game.
Knowledge of the status of wintering turkeys is particularly important in New Hampshire, because severe winter weather and limited natural food supplies can present serious challenges for wild turkeys.
Last winter, people responding to the survey reported seeing 1,787 flocks – more than 28,389 turkeys in all. Results are also in from Fish and Game's 2013 Summer Brood Survey, another online reporting survey that helps monitor turkey hens and poults. The public reported a total of 1,676 turkey broods, comprised of 3,987 adult hens and 13,755 chicks and poults (young turkeys). Based on reports from August, when turkey broods are most observable, weather during the spring and early summer of 2013 likely influenced turkey nesting success. Observers reported 3.33 poults per hen in August 2013, down from 3.84 in August 2012, and 4.38 in August 2011. For a summary of 2013 NH Summer Turkey Brood Survey results, visit http://www.wildnh.com/turkeybroodsurvey/report_pdfs/2013_Brood_Survey.pdf.
Wild turkeys had disappeared from New Hampshire by the mid-1800s because of overhunting and habitat loss from extensive land clearing. Their successful recovery in the state began with a reintroduction of 25 turkeys by N.H. Fish and Game in 1975. Today, New Hampshire now has an estimated 45,000 wild turkeys.