Allison Keating (603) 352-9669
Andy Timmins: (603) 271-1742
March 21, 2023
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is asking the public to report their wild turkey sightings by participating in the 2023 Online Winter Turkey Flock Survey, which concludes on 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.
During the winter of 2022, 772 flocks were reported statewide through the survey with 13,201 turkeys recorded, averaging 17 birds 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.
“As of March 1 this year, the Online Winter Flock Survey had generated 383 observations throughout the state,” said Keating. “This is a decrease from the 575 observations reported last winter at this time. We are hoping to hear from more people before the end of March.”
“Many people like to see wild turkeys on the landscape because their presence is part of what makes New Hampshire unique,” said Keating. This is reflected through the survey with 91% of respondents indicating they like, or strongly like, seeing wild turkeys. While people enjoy seeing wild turkeys, the observations people share through the online survey greatly add to the Department’s understanding of the abundance, distribution, and survival of turkeys through the winter months here in the Granite State.
Last winter, the highest percentage of observed feeding occurred at backyard birdfeeders (63%). Twenty-one percent of turkeys were reported feeding on acorns and beechnuts, while 15% were seen feeding on corn and grain, and 1% were witnessed eating apples or crab apples.
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 and report these observations through the online survey.
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 until 1995. Now, New Hampshire has a robust turkey population 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.