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Volunteers to report wild turkey sightings for 2011 survey

From the Delaware Division of Natural Resources

-- Volunteer birdwatchers are assisting the Division of Fish and Wildlife with its second annual productivity survey on the location and number of wild turkeys in the state.

The data will help biologists track the health, distribution and reproductive success of the states wild turkeys with the goal of ensuring a sustainable harvest of this treasured game species.

Today, Delaware has a thriving wild turkey population that allows for an annual turkey hunting season, but this was not always the case. The reintroduction of the wild turkey back to Delaware nearly 200 years after it became locally extinct, remains one of the Divisions greatest success stories, said wildlife biologist Matthew DiBona.

Beginning in early 1984, with support from the National Wild Turkey Federation, Division biologists released 34 wild-trapped turkeys from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont into Sussex and Kent counties. Reintroductions continued through the 1990s, and once the population had established a foothold in Delaware, a hunting season was started. Today, the Division has a healthy statewide population estimated at 4,000 birds.

To help ensure the continued success of wild turkeys in Delaware, the Division needs information on their distribution and annual reproductive success. One simple and cost-effective method is to have volunteers record and report sightings of turkeys during their day-to-day activities.

The 2011 survey period begins July 1 and continues through Aug. 31. Upon sighting turkeys, participants are asked to record the date, county and number of adult hens, gobblers and poults they observe. Participants will submit results by Sept. 10.

Last year, 27 participants submitted a total of 77 observations that provided valuable insight on turkey production last season. Reports indicated that reproductive success was fair to good last year in the southern part of the state. No observations were received from the area north of the C&D Canal.

This season, the Division hopes to increase participation and generate more observations from every corner of the state, DiBona said. Wed especially like to get some observations from northern New Castle County so the whole statewide turkey population will be represented.

A summary of last years survey results, as well as a new data sheet and instructions for volunteers  is available online.

For more information, contact Wildlife Biologist Matthew DiBona at (302)735-3600.

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