Annual sighting survey will run from July through August.
Each summer, Pennsylvanians help track wild turkey populations by reporting their turkey sightings to the Game Commission.
And this year, they’ll have twice as much time to make observations and report them.
The Pennsylvania Wild Turkey Sighting Survey, which in previous years has run the month of August, this year will open July 1 and run through August. The two-month window follows the new national standard to be 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 be found by searching for “Pennsylvania Game Commission” in the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store, and the survey can be accessed through the app by 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.
“The turkey survey enhances our agency’s internal survey, which serves as a long-term index of turkey reproduction,” 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 affect wild turkey productivity, including spring weather, habitat, previous winter-food abundance, predation and last fall’s harvest. The 2018 statewide turkey population was about 229,300, which is slightly above the previous 10-year average of 220,050 and three-year average of 218,600. That’s quite an accomplishment considering over half of Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Management Units showed lower recruitment in 2018, based upon summer-sighting survey data. Pennsylvania’s turkey population in the early 2000s reached its peak of about 280,000 birds because of agency restoration efforts through wild trap-and-transfer efforts, habitat improvement, and fall-turkey-hunting-season restrictions.
It then declined sharply to levels below 200,000. Since 2011 it has been fluctuating between 204,000 and 234,000, depending on summer reproduction and fall harvest.
“Every turkey-sighting report made to the Game Commission during July and August helps to improve wild turkey conservation in the Keystone State,” Casalena emphasized.