DEC Launching Studies to Improve Wild Turkey Management

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Winter Population Survey and Banding Study to Begin in January Landowners Encouraged to Participate

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan announced today that DEC is preparing for the first major field assessment of wild turkey harvest management in New York since the 1970s. This is a four-year study being done in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, researchers from Pennsylvania State University, and the National Wild Turkey Federation. These studies will provide wildlife managers with current estimates of harvest rates for male wild turkeys in New York and guide future management efforts.

"Wild turkeys are the most popular small game species in New York in terms of the number of hunter-days afield and growth in license sales," Commissioner Sheehan said. "Data generated by these studies will provide invaluable information on turkey survival rates and population size, which will help guide future management of this important game species."

Beginning in January 2006, DEC will launch a statewide effort to capture wild turkeys and fit them with leg bands. All of the work in New York will be done by DEC personnel on both public and private lands from January through March. The research will be concentrated in DEC Regions 3 through 9 where turkey populations are largest.

At the same time, DEC plans to begin collecting data on winter turkey flocks across the State to assess feasibility of a long-term population monitoring program. DEC plans to identify several locations in every county of New York where turkeys can be counted each winter to monitor population changes. At present, DEC relies on estimates of population size based on annual harvest surveys. An August sighting survey is also conducted to assess annual productivity, but management for this species would be improved by having an additional measure of turkey abundance.

In preparation for both studies, DEC requests turkey observation reports from landowners, hunters, birdwatchers or others on winter turkey flock locations anywhere in New York State. Observations of turkey flocks (even a few birds) during mid-December through March can be reported to the project coordinator for a particular region (see attached list for regional contacts).

Specifically, DEC is looking for landowners that may allow birds to be trapped, banded, and released on their land and will alert DEC staff when they see turkeys using their property. Turkeys will be trapped and banded and will immediately be released at the same location. No relocation of the birds will occur. The objective of the banding study is to examine hunter harvest rates, turkey survival rates, and harvest reporting rates.

"I encourage landowners that have wild turkey on their property to consider participating in this important study," Commissioner Sheehan said.

For more information on either project, please feel free to contact the project coordinator for your region or contact DEC by e-mail at fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us. Please have "Turkey Study" as the subject line on any e-mails on this subject.

Interested landowners should contact the project coordinator for their region list below:

DEC Region Project CoordinatorCounties
3 Pat Vissering
(845) 256-3090
21 South Putt Corners Rd.
New Paltz, NY 12561
Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester
4 Karl Parker
(518) 357-2154
1150 N. Westcott Rd.
Schenectady, NY 12306
Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Schoharie
5 Joe Racette
(518) 897-1293
Route 86, PO Box 296
Ray Brook, NY 12977
Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Saratoga, Warren and Washington
6 Andy MacDuff
(315) 785-2534
State Office Building
317 Washington St.
Watertown, NY 13601
Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, St. Lawrence
7 Bruce Manuel
(607) 753-3095
1285 Fisher Ave.
Cortland, NY 13045
Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego, Tioga and Tompkins
8 Scott Smith
(607) 776-2165x16
7291 Coon Rd.
Bath, NY 14810
Chemung, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates
9 Connie Adams
(716) 851-7010
270 Michigan Ave.
Buffalo, NY 14203
Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara and Wyoming
Central Office Michael Schiavone
(518) 402-8943
625 Broadway, 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12233
Statewide Coordination