Have you seen any wild turkeys?
The Department of Environmental Management is asking Rhode Islanders to assist its Division of Fish and Wildlife’s wild-turkey project by reporting any sightings of wild-turkey hens with broods of young turkeys. DEM biologists need the information to evaluate this year’s reproduction of wild turkeys, the survival of the young, and the population of the state’s wild-turkey flock.
Young turkeys are now hatching, and summer is typically the time when hens and their offspring are most visible to the public. The annual three-month turkey population survey continues through August. Last year the public helped by reporting 333 turkey brood sightings, according to Brian Tefft, principal wildlife biologist at DEM and head of the wild-turkey project. The information helped DEM determine the number of young birds that survived after various mortality factors such as predators, poor weather, road kills or domestic cats took their toll.
“These reports helped document productivity for the wild turkey, with 76 percent of the reports being of hens that had young,” said Tefft. The total number of adults reported was 664, while 2,730 poults were reported for a brood index of 4.1 young per hen in the 2011 survey.
To report wild turkey sightings, report forms can be downloaded from DEM’s website at DEM. ri.gov.