Biologist notes the effort helps the Game Commission keep tabs on annual turkey production.
The Game Commission is again seeking help from the public in surveying wild turkeys in August to get a handle on production statewide.
The second-annual web-based Pennsylvania Wild Turkey Sighting Survey begins today. The survey for the first time also will include a mobile app to report findings.
The public is encouraged to report any turkeys observed during August. Information submitted will help the agency analyze spring-turkey production. Participants will be requested to record the numbers of wild turkeys they see, along with the general location, date and contact information if agency biologists have any questions.
Reports can be filed a by visiting the Game Commission’s homepage – ww.pgc.pa.gov – and clicking on “August Turkey Sighting Survey” in the Quick Clicks section. Mobile apps survey can be found by searching for “Pennsylvania Game Commission” in the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store.
“The turkey survey enhances our agency’s internal survey, which serves as a long-term index of turkey reproduction,” explained Mary Jo Casalena, agency wild turkey biologist. “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.”
Many factors affect wild turkey productivity, including spring weather, habitat, previous winter-food abundance, predation and last fall’s harvest. The 2016 statewide turkey population was about 205,000, which is ¬¬¬6 percent below the previous five-year average of 218,000 birds. Pennsylvania’s turkey population in the early 2000s reached its peak of about 280,000 birds as a result of agency restoration efforts through wild trap-and-transfer, habitat improvement, and fall-turkey-hunting-season restrictions.
It then declined sharply to levels below 200,000. Since 2011 it has been fluctuating between 204,000 and 234,000, depending on summer reproduction and fall harvest.
“Remember, every turkey-sighting report made to the Game Commission during August helps to improve wild turkey conservation in the Keystone State,” Casalena emphasized.