ODNR needs your help with turkey, grouse counts
Seeing a hen turkey at 8 p.m. on May 29 in a neighbor’s rural field of just-emerged corn plants, perhaps pecking after insects, does not a nest make.
But it is a sighting that the Ohio Division of Wildlife wants to know about. It will become a dot, a data point, on an intricate map to show distribution of birds during spring nesting and post-nesting and poult-rearing season.
My sighting was special to me – it marks the third sighting of hen turkeys in my rural western Sandusky County bailiwick since February. A trail camera I have installed on a game trail in a meadow in my back creek bottom has captured the birds digitally twice – in late February in the snow and on April 9. This is significant to me, for these are the first known sightings of the birds in this watershed, to my knowledge.
The wildlife division stocked a flock of wild turkeys about eight miles to the west of my place, east of Gibsonburg in the Mud Creek watershed, more than 20 years ago. I have been waiting, until now in vain, for birds to expand their range east toward Fremont. Now they have.
The Ohio DNR wants the public to report sightings of wild turkeys and ruffed grouse to aid its surveys of these popular game species. Annually, the DNR conducts turkey and grouse brood surveys to estimate population growth. The brood survey relies on reports of observations of all wild turkeys and ruffed grouse seen during May, June, July, and August. Wildlife watchers and hunters can report observations at the new Wildlife Species Sighting webpage at wildohio.gov.
Information submitted to the brood surveys helps to predict future population changes and guide wild turkey management in the state. More than 2,800 turkeys were reported during the 2017 survey time-frame, with an average of 1.8 young turkeys (poults) per adult hen turkey. This average was below the long-term average of 2.4 poults per adult hen.
State and county population information is available online at wildohio.gov. Biologists began tracking summer observations of wild turkeys in 1962. Ruffed grouse were added to the survey in 1999.
I dutifully lodged my sightings on the website. Now it is your turn.