CONCORD — If you see a flock of wild turkeys in New Hampshire this winter, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department would like to hear about it.
For the third consecutive year, citizens are being asked to report sightings of turkey flocks seen from now through March 31, by filling out a simple electronic survey form posted on the Fish and Game website, wildnh.com/turkeysurvey. Do not report multiple sightings of the same flock.
The Winter Flock Survey will bolster Fish and Game's understanding of the abundance and distribution of turkeys during New Hampshire's challenging winter months. The survey asks participants to report the number of turkeys in the flock; the location where they were seen; the type of habitat the birds were observed in; and what the turkeys were feeding on, such as acorns, beechnuts, seed at birdfeeders or corn silage.
The survey is designed to fill gaps in Fish and Game's existing winter flock data collection efforts.
"For parts of the state, especially eastern and northern New Hampshire, we could benefit by additional sighting reports," said Ted Walski, Turkey Project Leader at Fish and Game. "This reporting system will allow the public to contribute important information to our understanding of winter turkey status in an inexpensive, efficient and, hopefully, enjoyable way."
Last winter, people responding to the survey reported more than 1,200 flocks totaling more than 19,000 turkeys, and encompassing all areas of the state. Last year's survey results are summarized at wildlife.state.nh.us/turkeysurvey/results_2010.html.
Turkeys are easy to see this time of year because they gather in large, highly visible flocks. Knowledge of the status of wintering turkeys is particularly important in New Hampshire, because of the challenges of severe winter weather and limited natural food supplies.
There are an estimated 45,000 wild turkeys in New Hampshire. Wild turkeys had disappeared from the New Hampshire landscape by the mid-1800s because of over-hunting and habitat loss from extensive land clearing. Their successful recovery in the state began in 1975, with a reintroduction of 25 turkeys by the N.H. Fish and Game Department.
For more information on the flock survey, write to Walski at Fish and Game Region 4 Office, 15 Ash Brook Court, Keene, 03431 or call 352-9669.
Turkey research in New Hampshire is supported by federal funds from the Wildlife Restoration Program. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats. Visit wildnh.com.