WATERBURY, VT -- The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department's fourth annual on-line wild turkey brood survey with input from the public begins on August 1. "If you see wild turkeys in the month of August, please help us by reporting your sightings in the online turkey brood survey," said Vermont Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Wayne Laroche. "The data you provide will help answer questions concerning the impacts of spring and winter weather on the survival of poults and adult turkeys and help us identify any long-term trends in survival of young.
The turkey brood survey will be on the department's website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com), starting August 1. The survey allows entry of the number of adult male turkeys, adult females and poults as well as the date, time and location of the observations.
Laroche says the information will be helpful in setting turkey hunting seasons and harvest limits that are designed to manage the turkey population.
Records from the late 1700s and early 1800s indicate wild turkeys were present in southern Vermont in smaller numbers than today. At the time of European settlement, most turkeys seemed to exist along the Taconic Mountain Range in southwestern Vermont and along the Connecticut River Valley in southeastern Vermont. Loss of forestland and unregulated market hunting in the early 19th century led to the elimination of Vermont's wild turkeys by the mid-1800s.
Vermont released the first 17 wild, trapped New York turkeys in Pawlet, Vermont in 1969. A second release of 14 wild birds in was made in Hubbardton in 1970. Today, Vermont's wild turkey population is estimated to number more than 50,000 birds. All of these are believed to directly descend from the original 31 New York wild turkeys. Wild turkeys are now found throughout Vermont.
Vermont has excellent turkey hunting across most of the state with 5,000 to 6,000 turkeys normally taken each year. Turkey hunting is a significant benefit to the people of Vermont by providing hunting opportunity, economic activity and a mechanism to control turkey numbers. Over-abundant turkey populations can result in nuisance or damage situations.
"This is your chance to contribute to the scientific management of Vermont's turkey population," said Laroche. "By entering the information about the turkeys you observe, you can help ensure that Vermonters will continue to enjoy turkeys in the years ahead."
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