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For more than 35 years, the NWTF has supported the latest research in wild turkey management. NWTF-funded research has increased the understanding of wild turkeys in the areas of biology, recruitment, mortality, reproduction, poult survival, habitat use, population dynamics, habitat management, DNA analysis, physiology and disease. The projects blanket North America where the five subspecies of wild turkeys are found as well as the Ocellated wild turkey.

Surviving the Fall
Controlling harvest through regulation is a key management tool to ensure there are always enough turkeys to sustain local populations. The NWTF, along with state conservation agencies, has worked with the hunting public to create regulations that are fair to hunters and still protect the wild turkey.

In Pennsylvania NWTF supports a research project led by Mary Jo Casalena, a wildlife biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, studying how regulation changes in fall season length affect the harvest and survival rates of Eastern wild turkey hens. Casalena tagged hens with leg bands and transmitters in two study areas in 2010, and will track the movements and harvest, death and survival until the fall 2013 turkey season. The study coincided with a fall regulation change in management units that expanded the length of the fall turkey season.

In each study area, researchers trapped 230 wild turkeys and fitted them with $100 reward leg bands. A number of hens also were equipped with satellite radio backpack transmitters. Radio-tagged hens allowed the researchers to know how many birds survived each fall hunting season. The harvest of reward-banded and radio-tagged birds information was used to estimate the proportion of birds that were harvested — the harvest rate for hen turkeys.

After each fall turkey season, 10,000 Pennsylvania hunters received a survey with questions on hunting participation, success and satisfaction for the early and late segments of the fall hunting season, as well as hunter age to determine the number of youth hunters.

Looking Forward
With reliable data from an NWTF-funded research project and hunter participation and satisfaction surveys, the Pennsylvania Game Commission can more effectively set future fall turkey hunting seasons.

Ongoing Research
The NWTF supports research using the latest technology and techniques to unravel the intricacies of managing the Ocellated and five subspecies of wild turkeys in the diverse environments they inhabit across North America.

From 1985 to 2010 Pennsylvania Chapter NWTF has funded over $3,311,000 from State Chapter Super Fund from net-net dollars raised and spent at Hunting Heritage Super Fund Banquets across the state each year. These project funding dollars were used for Habitat Enhancement, Purchased Equipment for Habitat Management, Wild Turkey Management, Land Purchases for State Game Lands, and Wild Turkey Restoration by Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Many state and federal co-operators partnered with NWTF, Pennsylvania Chapter NWTF, and local chapters to achieve these successful programs, PGC, DCNR, ANF, Corps of Engineers, and other state and federal projects.
Don Heckman
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