Allison Keating (603) 352-9669
Andrew Timmins: (603) 271-1742
February 24, 2023
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is asking the public to report wild turkey sightings this winter by participating in the 2023 Winter Turkey Flock Survey. This is the 15th year of the online winter flock survey, which ends March 31. Information about the status of wintering wild turkeys is very important because severe weather and limited natural food supplies can present serious challenges for turkeys. It’s fun and easy to participate by visiting www.wildnh.com/surveys/turkey.html, and we greatly appreciate your contributions.
In 2022, 772 flocks were reported statewide during the Winter Turkey Flock Survey, with 13,201 turkeys recorded, averaging 17 turkeys per flock. “Both the number of flocks and the number of turkeys reported were lower in 2022 compared with the previous two years,” said Allison Keating, The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Turkey Project Leader. “However, the average flock size has remained consistent at 18 birds per flock in both 2020 and 2021.”
Regionally, and similar to previous years, southernmost Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) had the highest number of reported flocks including 298, 63, and 60 in WMUs M, K and L, respectively.
The highest percentage of observed feeding occurred at backyard birdfeeders (62%). The second highest reported category of food usage was corn or grain (18%), followed by acorns and beechnuts (12%). Reported consumption of apples or crab apples was only 8%.
Public attitudes toward winter flocks of wild turkeys continue to be very favorable: 93% of respondents indicated that they like, or strongly like, seeing wild turkeys; 6% of people neither like nor dislike turkeys; while 1% of participants either dislike or strongly dislike turkeys.
“Many people just like to see turkeys on the landscape because their presence is part of what makes New Hampshire special,” said Keating. “The observations people share through the online survey greatly add to the Department’s understanding of the abundance, distribution, and survival rates of turkeys through the winter months here in the Granite State.”
The Department also continues to monitor the prevalence of two viruses that are present in the wild turkey population: avian pox and lymphoproliferative disease virus (LPDV). The public is asked to keep an eye out this winter for any turkeys displaying lesions or wart-like protuberances on the head or neck areas of turkeys they see and report these observations through the online survey.
During the winter of 2022, turkeys with visible lesions, which may have been indicative of avian pox or LPDV, were reported in 13 towns from 7 different WMUs. These finding are similar to the previous two years’ survey results. Overall, reports of symptomatic turkeys remain low.
To learn more about these viruses, visit www.wildlife.state.nh.us/wildlife/turkeys/turkey-virus.html.
Wild turkeys disappeared from New Hampshire’s landscape for more than a century because of unregulated hunting and habitat loss from extensive land clearing in the 1800s. Their recovery in the state began during the winter of 1975 when 25 turkeys were trapped in New York and transferred to Walpole, NH. As that initial population grew, turkeys were trapped and transferred to different locations throughout the state up until 1995. Now, New Hampshire has a robust turkey population estimated at more than 45,000 birds statewide. Wild turkey management and research is made possible by the federal Wildlife Restoration Program, which is funded by an excise tax on the sale of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment.