This year the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) and the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences will begin the most comprehensive long-term study of Eastern wild turkey in the state’s history. The research project will take place in three locations across the state over the next five years and is designed to determine the reproduction, survival and harvest rates as well as movement patterns of wild turkey in Alabama.
Estimates put Alabama’s current population of Eastern wild turkey at approximately 450,000 birds. Each year in Alabama thousands of hunters pursue wild turkey during turkey season making it the state’s most popular game bird. The results of the study will be used to guide wild turkey management practices in the future.
For the project, both male and female turkeys will be fitted with transmitters and/or leg bands in and around the J.D. Martin Skyline, Oakmulgee, and Scotch Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). Each year of the study, up to 150 turkeys in each research area will be fitted with the transmitters and/or leg bands. Gobble counts and routine camera surveys will also be conducted in order to estimate the productivity, structure, and size of the turkey population in each research area.
In the event of harvesting a wild turkey fitted with one of the devices, hunters should return the transmitters to the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. A return address is printed on the devices.
“It is very important for us to retrieve each of the transmitters,” said Ray Metzler, WFF Wildlife Section Acting Chief. “The data collected will help shape turkey management decisions for future generations of turkey hunters.”
Additional support and funding for the research project has been provided by Auburn University, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alabama Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.