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Summer Turkey Sighting Survey Results 2014

DEC conducts the Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey annually during the month of August to estimate the average number of wild turkey poults (young of the year) per hen statewide and among major geographic regions of the State. This index allows us to gauge reproductive success in a given year and allows us to predict fall harvest potential. Weather, predation, and habitat conditions during the breeding and brood-rearing seasons can all significantly impact nest success, hen survival, and poult survival.

View, print, or download the complete 2014 Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey report (PDF) (404 kB).

In 2014, there were 482 records of hen-flocks, the largest number reported since 2007. Reproductive success from the 2014 survey was about 3.2 poults/hen. This is higher than 2013, and is slightly above the 10-year average (about 3 poults/hen). Production has gradually improved from the low observed in 2009, but four of the five years from 2009 through 2013 had production that was below the ten-year average. About 19.5% of the hen-flocks observed in 2014 did not have poults. This similar to last year (20%) and close to the ten-year average (19.4%).

In 2014, production in most DEC Regions was close to or above the five-year statewide average with the exception of Region 7 in central New York. The only region where production declined from 2013 to 2014 was Region 8 (Finger Lakes), but the poult/hen estimate for this area was still close to the five-year average.

Rainfall amounts in May and June were close to normal in many areas of the state, with the exception of isolated areas in central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Western Adirondacks/Black River Valley. Above average rainfall in May and June can negatively impact nest and brood success. It is important to note that turkeys in areas with favorable weather may still experience low nest and brood success due to poor habitat quantity and quality on a local or landscape scale (e.g., lack of brood-rearing habitat and/or a poor mix of habitat types).

The good production observed in 2014 will likely be balanced against poor production last year and harsh winter conditions in 2013-14. We anticipate that the fall 2014 harvest will be higher than last year, but still below the ten-year average (about 8,500 birds). In areas with good growing conditions this spring and summer and plentiful hard mast, there will be an abundance of food available to turkeys this fall. Under these conditions birds have to roam less in search of food making them less vulnerable to hunters.

Thank you to everyone who submitted their observations!