The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s two-month public survey on wild turkey sightings has ended, but participants are encouraged to report their July and August sightings through Monday, Sept. 6.
Reports must be filed online, either by visiting www.pgc.pa.gov and clicking on “Turkey Sighting Survey” in the Quick Clicks section, or through the mobile apps available at the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store. To find the apps, search for “Pennsylvania Game Commission,” then select Turkey Sighting Survey.
Participants may report the numbers of wild turkeys seen from July 1 to Aug. 31, along with the general location, date and contact information if agency biologists have any questions.
Please note, your specific location information is NOT shared or stored; it is used solely to help determine the county, township and Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) of each sighting.
“The turkey survey enhances our agency’s internal survey, which serves as a long-term index of turkey reproduction,” explained Mary Jo Casalena, Game Commission wild turkey biologist. “By reporting all turkeys seen during each sighting, whether it’s gobblers, hens with broods or hens without broods, the data help us determine total productivity and allow us to compare long-term reproductive success with other northeastern states.”
Many factors affect wild turkey productivity, including spring weather, habitat, previous winter-food abundance, predation and last fall’s harvest. The 2020 survey showed a statewide reproductive success of 2.7 poults per all hens seen, which was similar to the previous three-year average, and varied from 1.4 poults per all hens in WMU 5C to 3.6 in WMU 3A. Reproductive success in 2020 improved in 10 of 23 WMUs compared to the previous three-year average, was similar in two WMUs, but declined to below average in 11 WMUs. Areas where reproduction declined were scattered with no region showing a strong pattern of declines or increases in reproduction.
Pennsylvania’s turkey population in the early 2000s reached its peak of about 280,000 birds as a result of restoration efforts through wild trap-and-transfer, habitat improvement, and fall-turkey-hunting-season restrictions.
It then declined sharply to levels below 200,000. Since 2011 it has been fluctuating between 204,000 and 234,000, depending on summer reproduction and fall harvest.
“Remember, every summer turkey-sighting reported to the Game Commission helps to improve wild turkey conservation in the Keystone State,” Casalena emphasized.