Public comment wanted to help guide wild turkey management over the next 10 years.
Management of the wild turkey in Pennsylvania has made great strides over the last two decades, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission is seeking public input on the agency’s third turkey management plan, which strives to effectively manage this popular big-game species through 2027.
During the first wild turkey management plan from 1999 to 2005, the Game Commission completed wild turkey restoration and built partnerships with other groups, agencies and organizations.
The 2006-2017 plan focused on acquiring more-detailed harvest data; minimizing and abating human-turkey conflicts; quantifying, enhancing and acquiring turkey habitat throughout the Commonwealth; developing a habitat suitability model; assisting and educating landowners about turkey populations and habitat management; and improving hunter safety through increased education, said Mary Jo Casalena, Game Commission turkey biologist.
“The new plan uses the information gained during the two previous plans and focuses on developing turkey population models for each wildlife management unit (WMU) in the Commonwealth,” Casalena said.
The models will predict turkey population responses to changes in harvest regulations, and will help the Game Commission identify optimal harvest regulations that maximize both turkey populations and hunting opportunities for Pennsylvania’s 200,000 fall turkey hunters and nearly 230,000 spring turkey hunters. Once finalized, the models will be appended into this plan.
Other strategies under the population objective include beginning turkey harvest rate monitoring for each WMU, and assessing turkey diseases and how they may relate to population management. The Game Commission also will determine priority areas for habitat management/improvements at the WMU and state game lands levels, update the habitat suitability model for each WMU to integrate strategies for management of habitat and harvest, and increase habitat management acreages through prescribed burns.
Additionally, the agency will develop a more precise method of annually determining participation rates of the various age segments of turkey hunters to recommend ways to increase hunter participation, retention, recruitment and reactivation; maintain or improve turkey hunter safety and compliance with regulations; increase public awareness of wild turkeys and their management; and enhance important partnerships.
“This new wild turkey management plan comprehensively involves all aspects of wild turkey management,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “Implementation of its strategies involves the entire agency and is a team effort. Before finalizing the plan, we are seeking public comment to ensure that it considers the thoughts and concerns of Pennsylvanians about this species.”
The draft plan can be viewed on the agency’s website at www.pgc.pa.gov on the wild turkey page. Hover over the Hunt & Trap tab in the top menu, select Hunting. Scroll down to click the Wild Turkey link in the Big Game section.
Comments from the public will be accepted through Aug. 31, 2018, and can be emailed to WildTurkeyComments@pa.gov, or sent by mail to: Turkey Management Plan, Bureau of Wildlife Management, Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg PA.
A summary of public comments received, and any changes made in response to the comments, will be included in the final version of the draft 2018-2027 Wild Turkey Management Plan, which will be presented to the Game Commission Board of Commissioners for approval at the Board’s meeting on Sept. 25, 2018.