National Wild Turkey Federation

The Florida State Chapter of the NWTF helps fund new research on wild turkeys.

The Florida Wildlife Commission is expanding its body of information on wild turkeys by conducting a three-year research project in South Florida to learn more about when and how often they are eaten.

Another facet of the study, which begins this spring, will be to examine nesting activity. The objective of this research is to determine the relationship between the dates of the gulping, nesting, and hunting seasons to ensure that the Florida spring turkey season is configured to maximize hunter satisfaction and the sustainability of the Florida wild turkey population. .

This project expands on a 2014-2017 study with the same objectives conducted at sites in north and central Florida. Like the previous study, automated recording devices will be strategically placed to collect gobbles at the Okaloacoochee Slough WMA in Hendry County and the DeLuca Preserve in Osceola County. Additionally, capturing wild turkeys at these sites will allow biologists to obtain basic information (weight, size, age, sex, etc.) on each bird. In addition, they will band all captured birds and equip a select number of hens with GPS transmitters.

Biologists will communicate regularly with hens that received GPS transmitters to monitor nesting behavior, including when and how many nests are started and the outcome of the nesting effort.

The chickens will also be tested for the lymphoproliferative disease virus. First identified in 2009 in Arkansas, this disease can cause wild turkeys to develop tumors in the spleen, liver and other organs, and on the skin. Testing for LPDV as part of this study will provide biologists with the opportunity to assess whether it affects reproductive rates in wild turkeys.

This research project is the result of a partnership between the FWC and the University of Florida. It is funded by money generated from the sale of turkey permits, which are required to hunt wild turkeys in Florida (unless exempt), as well as contributions from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Florida State Chapter. Florida National Wild Turkey Federation. It is part of several other efforts through FWC’s wild turkey management program to better understand wild turkey distribution and abundance, nesting success and hatchling survival, and hunter satisfaction, effort, and success. .

“Our volunteer leadership in Florida understands the integral role research plays in guiding appropriate management decisions, which ultimately lead to wild turkey sustainability in Florida,” said Ricky Lackey, NWTF district biologist for Florida, Georgia. and South Carolina. “In addition to the $90,000 the Florida State Chapter is allocating to wild turkey habitat projects in 2023, they are contributing significant funds to this new wild turkey research to ensure our favorite game birds thrive in Florida.”