FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is calling on interested hunters and citizens to participate in a simple survey of wild turkeys this summer. Data resulting from the survey will provide valuable information for the department’s turkey management program.
“This is a simple survey which helps us track the population,” Turkey Program Coordinator Zak Danks said. “With limited staff, it’s difficult to get adequate survey coverage across the state. Many dedicated participants have helped us with the survey over the years, including many from local NWTF (National Wild Turkey Federation) chapters. We are reaching for more Kentuckians to help us to strengthen the data set.”
During July and August, department staff and volunteers keep a data sheet in their vehicle. When participants see wild turkey hens, poults or gobblers, they record their observations about what they’ve seen.
The turkey program compiles the data into a statewide index that gauges the summer’s turkey hatch, which helps assess population levels. Over time, this helps establish reproduction trends. Numerous state wildlife agencies across the southeastern U.S. use this kind of survey.
Danks said having more observers in the field will provide a better picture of Kentucky’s turkey population. The project would be an excellent one for local National Wild Turkey Federation chapters, wildlife enthusiasts with trail cameras, hikers and those people who spend a lot of time on the road. A downloadable survey form is available on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website (fw.ky.gov) by searching under the key words, “turkey survey.”
Participants can scan a survey or take a photo of it with a smartphone and email it to the department at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
“Spring weather really drives the turkey hatch,” Danks said. “Prolonged periods of cold, rainy weather can spell doom for turkey broods. So far this summer the weather has generally been favorable. I’m getting good reports of broods so far. I hope this outreach effort can pull in more observers who can provide us with additional data.”