STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, June 4, 2018 (State House News Service) — State wildlife officials are asking for help from birders others in the outdoors as they try to estimate the number of turkeys in Massachusetts.
June 1 marked the start of MassWildlife’s annual wild turkey brood survey, a count that is intended to help state biologists determine “productivity and compare long-term reproductive success” while also providing an estimate of the potential for turkey hunting in the fall.
MassWildlife has asked that anyone who sees turkey hens, newly-hatched turkeys (called poults), or juvenile or adult male turkeys in the wild to complete the survey.
“Turkey nesting success can vary annually in response to weather conditions, predator populations, and habitat characteristics. Citizen involvement in this survey is a cost-effective means of gathering useful data, and can be a fun way for people to connect with nature,” MassWildlife said. “Be sure to look carefully when counting turkey broods, the very small poults may be difficult to see in tall grass or brush.”
The agency said it is interested in receiving turkey observations “from all regions of the state, including rural and developed areas.” The survey runs through Aug. 31.
Wild turkeys were once widespread in Massachusetts, but the last known native bird was killed in 1851, MassWildlife said. The agency trapped 37 turkeys in New York and released them in the Berkshires in the 1970s, and by the fall of 1978 the estimated population was about 1,000 birds.
In-state transplants of the birds were conducted until 1996 and the estimated turkey population now exceeds 25,000, MassWildlife said. Since 1991, the wild turkey has been the official state bird.