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Curriculum Resources

Fall 2010 Turkeys

Wildlife Management

One of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) many and varied responsibilities to the people of the state is wildlife management. The goal of wildlife management is to keep common species common and to keep rare species from going extinct. Game species such as deer and turkeys are plentiful, and wildlife managers work to ensure the sustainable harvest of these species by hunters. Other species are less abundant, and managers monitor, protect, or restore these species and their habitats to secure their continued presence in the state. Where wildlife and people interact, wildlife management guided by sound science is a necessity for the health and safety of both wildlife and people.

Wildlife managers study the relationships among various aspects of ecosystems (e.g., predators and prey and the habitats they depend upon). They work to ensure that there is sufficient, appropriate habitat for wildlife and that ecological systems continue to function properly. DEC's wildlife managers work with other government agencies, non-profit groups, land owners and others to conserve, study, protect and enhance wildlife populations and habitats. In so doing, they contribute to the survival of wildlife species within our state. As human populations grow and expand into natural areas, interactions between people and wildlife become more common. Wildlife managers also work to limit negative interactions between people and wildlife. Though we may like to see deer, we don't want them so plentiful that they damage forest ecosystems through overbrowse or become a road hazard. Likewise, we don't want bears at our bird feeders or trash cans, but we like to know they're in the woods.

Many times wildlife managers let nature takes its course. At other times, they deem it appropriate to step in and lend a hand, as was the case with wild turkeys. After years of habitat loss and unregulated hunting, wild turkeys were absent from New York State from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. The presence of wild turkeys across the state today testifies to the perseverance of wildlife managers, as initial attempts to restore wild turkeys to their former range failed and a new technique-trap and transfer-was attempted and succeeded. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, "The comeback of the wild turkey is arguably the greatest conservation story in North America's history." New York State became a leader in the effort to restore wild turkeys to their former range, so much so that turkeys from New York were used to repopulate other states.

This Issue's "Outside Page"

Citizen scientists contribute to conservation efforts and wildlife studies across the state every day. This issue's "Outside Page" encourages readers to participate in the annual winter and summer surveys of turkey populations. Participants help turkeys by helping DEC biologists track changes in distribution and abundance. Reporting forms are easy to complete and submit. General information about wild turkey research by DEC can be found at the DEC's Turkey pages while forms are available for the winter and summer surveys as well. You may also want to review the most recent survey results via links from these web pages to show your students how their contributions to the research into New York's wild turkeys may be used.

Conservationist for Kids History

Conservationist for Kids (C4K) and an accompanying teacher supplement are distributed to public school fourth-grade classes three times each school year (fall, winter and spring). If you would like to be added or removed from the distribution list, if your contact information needs to be changed or if you have questions or comments, please e-mail the editor.

Printable activity sheets and links to other resources are on DEC's website. You will also find back issues of C4K and the activity sheets and teacher supplements associated with each of them. Visit Conservationist for Kids website for more info.

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