CONCORD-- The N.H. Fish and Game Department is asking for the public's help in tracking wild turkey broods in New Hampshire this spring and summer. It's easy to take part. If you observe groups of turkeys with young between May 15 and August 31, report your sightings to Fish and Game at its web-based turkey brood survey at http://www.wildnh.com/turkeybroodsurvey.
"People enjoy participating, and by doing so, they are helping us monitor the turkey population," said Ted Walski, Fish and Game Turkey Project Leader. "We get reports from all over the state through this survey, adding to the important information biologists gather on turkey productivity, distribution, abundance, turkey brood survival and the timing of nesting and hatching."
Last year (2013), summer brood survey participants reported seeing 1,676 broods, up from 1,085 sightings in 2012. Biologists are especially interested in getting more reports of turkey broods in the three northernmost New Hampshire counties (Coos, Carroll and Grafton).
The term "brood" refers to a family group of young turkeys accompanied by a hen. New Hampshire hens generally begin laying eggs sometime from mid-April to early May and complete their clutch of about 12 eggs in early to mid-May. Incubation lasts for 28 days, and most eggs hatch from late May to mid-June. If incubating turkey eggs are destroyed or consumed by predators, hens often lay a replacement clutch of eggs that hatch late June through late July. Reports of adult male turkeys are not being requested at this time.
Many factors can affect turkey productivity in any given year. Young turkeys are extremely sensitive to cool temperatures and rain, both because it can impact their health, and because these conditions adversely impact insect populations that are a critical source of nutrition for young turkeys. Since spring weather is highly variable, survival of the annual hatch of wild turkeys is also highly variable.
Turkey populations depend on a large annual influx of young turkeys to sustain themselves over time, so the number of young turkeys that survive to be "recruited" into the fall population is of great interest to turkey managers. A large sample of turkey brood observations collected throughout the summer can provide turkey managers with insight into the size of the "graduating class" of turkeys that will become adults. This explains why turkey managers throughout the country incorporate information from brood surveys into their management programs.
This year, turkey watchers are also being asked to report any observations of avian pox on turkeys. The avian pox virus, which is not harmful or transferable to humans, is characterized by wart-like growths on the head and upper neck area of the bird. During the 2014 Internet Winter Flock Survey, wild turkeys were observed with pox lesions at 26 sites in 18 towns, out of a total of 1,400 observations logged. To learn more about avian pox, visit http://www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/turkeyvirus.html.
Fish and Game relies on citizen participation to get as much turkey brood data as possible through this important survey. The survey will close on August 31. To report your turkey brood observations, go to http://www.wildnh.com/turkeybroodsurvey.
Wildlife research and management in New Hampshire is funded in part by Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration, a user-pay, user-benefit program supported by your purchase of fishing tackle, firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and motorboat fuels.