Here’s a chance to help Vermont’s wildlife conservation efforts. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is asking for your help in monitoring the wild turkey population by providing information about turkey families you see in Vermont during August.
Starting August 1, a turkey brood survey will be on the department’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com). The survey allows entry of the number of adult male, adult female and young turkeys, or poults, as well as the date, time and location of the observations.
The data you provide will help establish long-term trends in wild turkey population recruitment and contribute to good wildlife management decisions. The information will help reveal the impacts of spring and winter weather on the survival of poults and adult turkeys.
Records from the late 1700s and early 1800s indicate wild turkeys were present in southern Vermont in smaller numbers than today. At the time of European settlement, most turkeys existed along the Taconic Mountain Range in southwestern Vermont and along the Connecticut River Valley in southeastern Vermont. The loss of forestland and unregulated market hunting in the early 19th century, led to the elimination of Vermont’s wild turkeys by the mid-1800s.
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department biologists released the first 17 wild-trapped New York turkeys in Pawlet, Vermont in 1969. A second release of 14 wild birds in was made in Hubbardton in 1970. Today, Vermont’s wild turkey population is estimated to number more than 50,000 birds, all believed to be descended from the original 31 New York wild turkeys. Wild turkeys are now found throughout Vermont.
Vermont has excellent spring and fall turkey hunting across most of the state. Turkey hunting benefits the people of Vermont by providing hunting opportunity, an excellent source of healthy food, economic activity and a means of controlling turkey numbers. Over abundant turkey populations can result in nuisance situations when crops or other properties are damaged by turkeys. Five to 6,000 wild turkeys are harvested annually in Vermont.