Each summer, Pennsylvanians help track wild turkey populations by reporting their turkey sightings to the Game Commission, and a new survey period is about to begin.
The Pennsylvania Wild Turkey Sighting Survey opens July 1 and will run through August. The two-month window follows the current national standard used by all state wildlife agencies, providing comparable data across the wild turkey’s entire range.
Turkey sighting reports can be made through the Game Commission’s mobile app or on the agency’s website, www.pgc.pa.gov.
On the website, click on “Turkey Sighting Survey” in the Quick Clicks section. The mobile app can be found by searching for “Pennsylvania Game Commission” in the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store, and selecting “Turkey Sighting Survey.”
The public is encouraged to report any turkeys observed during July and August. Information submitted helps the agency analyze turkey reproduction. Participants are requested to record the number of wild turkeys they see, along with the general location, date, and contact information if agency biologists have any questions. Viewers can also access results from previous years.
“The turkey survey enhances our agency’s internal survey, which serves as a long-term index of turkey reproduction and is used in our turkey population model,” explained Mary Jo Casalena, agency wild-turkey biologist. “By reporting all turkeys seen during each sighting, whether gobblers, hens with broods or hens without broods, the data help us determine total productivity, and allow us to compare long-term reproductive success.”
Many factors including spring weather, habitat, previous winter-food abundance, predation and last fall’s harvest, affect wild-turkey productivity. The 2020 spring-turkey population was approximately 196,260, which was 11 percent below the previous three-year average of 219,400. Fortunately, last summer’s average reproductive success (2.7 poults per hen), allowed for stability in the statewide turkey population coming into this spring’s breeding season. At the Wildlife Management Unit level, reproductive success in 2020 improved in 10 of 23 WMUs compared to the previous three-year average. It was similar to the previous three-year average in two WMUs, but declined to below average in 11 WMUs. Areas where reproduction declined were scattered with no region showing a strong pattern of declines or increases in reproduction.
Reproductive success in 2020 also varied considerably among the Mid-Atlantic states. Poult production was lowest in Delaware (1.0 poult/hen) and Maryland (1.9 poults/hen). Interestingly Maryland experienced one of the highest reproductive rates the previous year at 2.7 poults/hen in 2019. Production was highest in New Hampshire and Maine (4.0 poults/hen). Large sample sizes in New York, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire provided tighter confidence intervals for these estimates compared to the other states.
“Thanks to the popularity of this survey in Pennsylvania, we have high confidence in our estimates,” Casalena emphasized. “Let’s maintain these results in 2021 and even increase participation.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Travis Lau – 717-705-6541