Understanding what hunters want from and for the resource is an equally important part of turkey-management planning. In recent years, DEC, in partnership with Cornell University’s Human Dimensions Research Unit, conducted a statewide survey of turkey hunters to determine their motivations, attitudes and opinions on turkey populations, hunting opportunities and related issues. And starting this month, DEC is kicking off a four-year banding study in Regions 3 through 9, the areas of the state where turkey populations are largest. The study will allow scientists to examine survival rates, hunter harvest rates and harvest reporting rates. Of particular interest are harvest rates for hens. The data they gather will support future management efforts.
DEC wildlife researchers are asking landowners with overwintering turkey populations on their property to assist them in their study by allowing technicians onto their land to trap, band and immediately release hen turkeys. Cooperating landowners are assured that no birds will be removed or relocated. Interested people in Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Hamilton, Warren, Washington, Saratoga and Fulton counties can contact their regional DEC project coordinator, Melissa Neely, by calling 623-1273. For additional information, interested landowners can contact DEC at 402-8886.
Turkeys require diverse habitats, which must be adequate to sustain a flock, not just an individual. A flock may use several thousand acres to support its needs. In fact, flocks of wild turkeys may range over several square miles in just one day. Therefore, a good turkey habitat management plan will also evaluate habitat provided by adjoining properties and compensate for deficiencies. In fact, when planning management, neighboring landowners may want to consider joining forces. When neighbors work together, turkey flock habitat can often be greatly improved with just a few small enhancements.
Turkeys appear to do best in areas where mixes of forested and actively farmed or reverting farmland are found. A rough overview of good turkey habitat might consist of 50 to 75 percent forestland, about half of which should be mature hardwood, with another 10 percent in clumps of conifers (spruce, balsam, white pine, hemlock). When cutting timber, a good percentage of mast producing trees should be left standing.