State asks for assistance in counting turkeys

VERMONT — How many broods of wild turkeys are you seeing in Vermont, and how many young turkeys, or poults, are roaming with their mothers?
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is asking people who see turkeys during August to report their sightings in the state’s seventh annual online turkey brood survey.
The turkey brood survey can be found on the department’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com). The survey allows entry of the numbers of adult males, adult females and poults as well as the date, time and location of the observations.
The data you report will help establish long-term trends in turkey reproduction and recruitment. This information will be extremely useful in the management of the wild turkey population. It will help answer questions concerning the impacts of spring and winter weather on the survival of poults and adult turkeys. It will help with the setting of turkey seasons and harvest limits that are designed to manage the Vermont’s turkey population.
Vermont has excellent turkey hunting across most of the state that benefits the people of Vermont by providing hunting opportunity, economic activity and carefully regulated control of turkey numbers. Overabundant turkey populations can result in nuisance situations when crops or properties are damaged by turkeys.
Management of wild turkeys seeks to maximize the benefits of having turkeys while minimizing the liabilities. More than 6,200 wild turkeys were harvested in Vermont this past spring — the highest harvest to date by Vermont hunters in both the May spring season and the youth turkey hunting weekend during the last weekend in April.
Despite the high harvest numbers, the Fish & Wildlife Department is concerned with turkey nesting success this year due to record amounts of precipitation. 
“Turkey poults are very susceptible to mortality during their first two weeks of life from extended periods of rain,” says turkey biologist Forrest Hammond. “Although hen turkeys will often re-nest if they lose their first clutch of eggs, nest success is usually lower for the second attempt, especially if wet conditions persist as they did this year.”
Hammond reports that nesting conditions were good the last two years, which helped boost overall turkey numbers but he says that he wouldn’t be surprised if numbers are lower in 2014. 
“Results of the August online turkey brood survey helps track the population fluctuations,” added Hammond. “Please help us scientifically manage the turkey population by reporting your turkey sightings during the month of August. Your help is appreciated.”
Results of past citizen reports on turkey broods can be seen by going to www.vtfishandwildlife.com/turkey_survey.cfm.

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