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Winter Wild Turkey Survey Starts January 1

CONCORD, N.H. – With the advent of snow cover across the state, wild turkeys are gathering at backyard birdfeeders. If you see a flock of turkeys in New Hampshire this winter, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is asking you to report it via its online N.H. Wild Turkey Winter Flock Survey. Last winter, volunteer turkey watchers submitted 1,787 flock reports, totaling 28,389 turkeys.

You can report any turkey flocks seen from January 1 through March 31, 2015, by filling out a simple electronic survey form posted on the Fish and Game website at http://www.wildnh.com/turkeysurvey. (Or go to http://www.wildnh.com and click on “Turkey Survey.”) Please do not report multiple sightings of the same flock.

The survey is designed to fill gaps in Fish and Game’s existing winter flock data collection efforts, adding to the Department’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 (acorns, beechnuts, seed at birdfeeders, corn silage, etc.).

“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 Fish and Game Turkey Biologist Ted Walski.

“We’re especially interested in seeing whether people observe any diseased turkeys,” said Walski. Fish and Game is monitoring for two viruses that have appeared in New Hampshire’s turkeys in recent years (see http://wildnh.com/Wildlife/turkey_virus.html). “The viruses are not too widespread yet, but we are keeping a close watch. Look for warty protuberances in the head and eye area,” he explained.

Knowledge of the status of wintering wild turkeys is particularly important in New Hampshire, where severe winter weather and limited natural food supplies can present serious challenges for turkeys.

Summer Brood Survey Results
Fish and Game has tallied up results from the now-complete 2014 Summer Brood Survey, an online reporting survey that helps monitor turkey hens and poults. The public reported 724 broods last summer, almost half of them from the southeast part of the state. Hatching weather for the spring and summer of 2014 seemed generally favorable for turkey nesting and hatching success, according to Walski. For a summary of 2014 N.H. Summer Turkey Brood Survey results, visit http://www.wildnh.com/turkeybroodsurvey/report_pdfs/2014_Brood_Survey.pdf.

New Hampshire now has an estimated 40,000 wild turkeys. Their presence here is a true wildlife restoration success story. By the mid-1800s, wild turkeys had disappeared from New Hampshire because of overhunting and habitat loss from extensive land clearing. Their recovery in the state began with a successful reintroduction of 25 turkeys in Walpole by N.H. Fish and Game in 1975.

Turkey research and monitoring in New Hampshire is funded by the federal Wildlife Restoration Program, supported by the purchase of firearms, ammunition and archery equipment.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department works in partnership with the public to conserve and manage the state’s fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats. Visit http://www.wildnh.com.