Here’s a fun, simple project for Delaware birdwatchers and outdoorsy types: DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife is looking for volunteers to help with its 7th annual wild turkey reproduction survey.
Did you know?
Turkeys had been locally extinct in Delaware for nearly 200 years when I was a kid, which explains why I never saw one in the wild then. I was legitimately shocked the first time I saw one, and I still find them hugely entertaining. There’s a gang of three that like to hang out at my daughter’s school.
Wild turkeys were reintroduced into Kent and Sussex counties starting in 1984 (34 turkeys that year) and the program continued through the 90s. In 1991 hunting season was opened. Today, they think there are 4,000 wild turkeys in Delaware. It’s a wildlife restoration fairy tale.
Last year’s turkey reproduction numbers were not great compared to other years. The wet spring and other environmental factors probably had a lot to do with that; like most animals, wild turkey young (called poults) have a better chance of survival if they make it past their first few weeks.
That’s important information for researchers to have, and they have it thanks to volunteers throughout the state that provide data of their turkey sightings.
ISO Delaware Citizen Scientists
You can help local biologists pinpoint the locations where wild turkeys reproduce with the highest success rates, in turn helping to keep the turkey population sustainable and healthy. It’s easy: just keep an eye out for our finely-feathered friends, then record your data on this form.
- number of adult hens, gobblers (males) and poults (young of the year)
If you’re not familiar with how the different turkeys will look during the summer, here’s some identification pointers.
The 2016 survey period goes through Wednesday, August 31st. Results should be submitted by Saturday, September 10th, by mailing in to Turkey Observation Survey, c/o Division of Fish & Wildlife, 6180 Hay Point Landing Road, Smyrna, DE 19977.
Curious about last year’s survey results? You can find those here.