Wild turkeys are strange birds. They can be extremely skittish and elusive — the true definition of a game animal. Ask any turkey hunter. A gobbler might be headed right for your hiding spot, almost charging in to your call. But you make the tiniest wrong sound and he’ll stop, then disappear into the underbrush, never to be seen again.
And then other times, they’ll just walk around in your yard like their dum-dum domestic cousins. I once had to get out my car to shoo a whole flock of them off a dirt road in rural DeSoto County. They reluctantly ran off the road, but by the time I got back in my vehicle, they were already in front of me again. Honking didn’t bother them at all.
If you’ve been seeing any turkey in your neck of the woods, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission would like to know about it. Here’s the press release:
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You can help biologists learn more about Florida’s wild turkey population by reporting all wild turkeys you see during your normal daily activities from June 1 to Aug. 31.
It’s important we get as many reported sightings as possible during this annual survey. Our goal is over 4,000 reported sightings this year (last year we had about 3,000) and we need your help to achieve that. Get started reporting wild turkeys on your mobile device by downloading the Survey123ArcGIS app or report sightings online at https://bit.ly/3OdGb4J.
We’re interested in sightings of hens with and without poults (young wild turkeys), and male birds (jakes and gobblers) from all regions of the state, including rural and developed areas. When reporting numbers of poults, be sure to look carefully because young birds may be difficult to see in tall grass or brush.
The Sunshine State is home to a healthy wild turkey population. They occur throughout Florida and prefer open forests and forest edges and openings. FWC biologists conduct this survey each year to learn more about annual nesting success, brood survival, and the distribution and abundance of wild turkeys. Learn more about the FWC’s summer wild turkey survey at https://bit.ly/3RbfHSq.
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The nesting success of wild turkeys can vary each year based on several factors, including weather conditions, predation and habitat quality. Fluctuations in nesting success and brood survival strongly influence wild turkey populations. When reproduction in a given year is good, populations tend to increase in subsequent years.
By reporting wild turkey sightings, you’re helping provide a way to gauge wild turkey nesting success, brood survival, and population dynamics at statewide and regional levels.
Florida’s annual summer wild turkey survey is part of a larger regional study designed to provide more insight into the distribution and abundance of wild turkeys. The information, combined with harvest data, lets FWC biologists scientifically manage the wild turkey population — ensuring we have a thriving population now and in the future.
Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@WaterLineWeekly.com.