Delaware Asking for Reports of Turkey Sightings
The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife is looking for volunteer birdwatchers to assist the Division with its 2nd annual productivity survey on the location and number of wild turkeys in Delaware. This data will help biologists track the health, distribution and reproductive success of the state's wild turkeys with the goal of ensuring a sustainable harvest of this treasured game species.
"Today, Delaware has a thriving wild turkey population that allows for an annual turkey hunting season, but this was not always the case. The reintroduction of the wild turkey back into Delaware, nearly 200 years after it became locally extinct, remains one of the Division's greatest success stories," said Wildlife Biologist Matthew DiBona.
Beginning in early 1984, with support from the National Wild Turkey Federation, Division biologists released 34 wild-trapped turkeys from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont into Sussex and Kent counties. Reintroductions continued through the 1990s, and once the population had established a foothold in Delaware, a hunting season was started. Today, the Division has a healthy statewide population estimated at 4,000 birds.
To help ensure the continued success of wild turkeys in Delaware, the Division needs information on their distribution and annual reproductive success. One simple and cost-effective method is to have volunteers record and report sightings of turkeys during their day-to-day activities. The 2011 survey period will begin on Friday, July 1 and continue through Wednesday, Aug. 31. Upon sighting turkeys, participants are asked to record the date, county and number of adult hens, gobblers and poults (young of the year) they observe. Participants are asked to submit their results to the Division by Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011.
Last year, 27 participants submitted a total of 77 observations that provided valuable insight on turkey production last season. Reports indicated that reproductive success was "fair to good" last year in the southern part of the state. No observations were received from the area north of the C&D Canal.
"This season, the Division hopes to increase participation and generate more observations from every corner of the state," said DiBona. "We'd especially like to get some observations from northern New Castle County so the whole statewide turkey population will be represented."
A summary of last year's survey results, as well as a new data sheet and set of instructions is available for volunteers to download by visiting www.fw.delaware.gov. Note: Data can now be entered electronically on the form and emailed to the Division. For more information, please contact Wildlife Biologist Matthew DiBona at 302-735-3600.