Have You Seen Any Wild Turkeys? Kentucky & Tennessee Researchers Need Your Help
It's not even close to Thanksgiving and we are already talking turkeys in the Bluegrass State. Kentuckians are being asked to help out if they see wild turkeys and here's why.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOBBLERS GONE?
To the naked unprofessional turkey eye, it might seem like there are tons of turkeys in Kentucky. Take it from the wife of an avid turkey hunter, my husband is constantly pointing out turkey and deer when we are driving in the country. However, according to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, the turkey population has taken a dip since the highest harvest just 12 years ago;
Hunters reported the harvest of 26,836 turkeys during the state's spring 2022 seasons. While that level is comparable to the heyday of the turkey population boom in the early 2000s, it falls well short of Kentucky's record harvest of more than 36,000 turkeys during the spring season 12 years ago, and the past 10-year average of 30,822 harvested.
Kentucky is not alone in its turkey harvest decline.
“This is a range-wide phenomenon – it's happening in other states, too," said Zak Danks, turkey program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Researchers are talking and collaborating with each other, trying to figure out what's going on across the wild turkey's range."
Here's some information on the research done in 2021 with the KDFWL;
WHAT RESEARCHERS ARE DOING TO TRACK AND HELP THE DECLINE
There is still no clear evidence as to why the decline in the turkey population. Since the pandemic, there has been a slip in the number of hunters acquiring a license to hunt but still, the number of hunters is between 75,000-85,000 in 2022.
The Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Commission met in December and has proposed some things to help with research;
- A bag limit of one turkey per hunter per wildlife management area per season.
- Eliminating the harvest of non-bearded turkeys during fall hunting seasons.
- Extending the prohibition of baiting of wildlife from May 31 to July 31. Bait piles promote artificially high concentrations of predators and turkeys at bait sites, which likely increases predation and health risks to turkeys.
HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP RESEARCHERS
If you have a husband like mine or maybe you love spotting turkeys in the wild you can help researchers in a number of ways. This will help them monitor the population. The surveys can be filled out in from July through August.