Public asked to list turkey, grouse

Columbus — The Ohio DNR requests that the public take part in the annual survey of wild turkeys and ruffed grouse  by reporting sightings of these game birds. The survey is used to estimate population growth and also guides hunting regulations.

Every year, the DNR Division of Wildlife (DOW) conducts a turkey and grouse brood survey to estimate population growth, said Ken Duren, DOW wildlife biologist.

“This is an important survey for determining how good grouse and turkey reproduction is in the state,” Duren said. “We ask anybody to report turkey or ruffed grouse sightings during the summer months, starting May 15 and running until the end of August.”

If turkeys regularly visit an area, maybe a backyard, Duren suggests reporting that number once a month.

When the department receives reports of turkey, they are often of a hen and poults (young turkeys), Duren said. The average survey numbers gathered over the summer help to determine how good the hatch was or how good reproduction was that year.

The 10-year average for the index, which is the poults per hen, is about 2.5 poults per hen for all the observations across the state. More than 3,000 turkeys were reported during the 2013 survey, with an average of 2.54 poults to an adult hen, slightly higher than average.

“When we see years when the poults per hen is higher than 2.5 that usually means it is going to be a pretty good turkey season because the population had a good reproduction,” Duren said. “Typically, you’re going to see a population increase for the next year to two years.”

The department does not receive many ruffed grouse observations so that information cannot be used in the same way as the turkey survey. The biggest benefit for grouse observations is learning where they are being seen. The reports come mostly from southeast Ohio: Adams, Vinton, and Athens counties.

Ohio’s 2014 fall wild turkey hunting season will be Monday, Oct. 13, through Sunday, Nov. 30. Ohio’s ruffed grouse hunting season is Saturday, Oct. 11, through Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015.

State and county information is available from past wild turkey and ruffed grouse observations online. Biologists began tracking summer observations of wild turkeys in 1962. Ruffed grouse were added to the survey in 1999.

For more information, to report wild turkey and ruffed grouse sightings, and to view observations from previous years go to “Turkey Brood Survey” at www.wildohio.gov.

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