The National Wild Turkey Federation announced funding of more than $360,000 for seven new research projects in six states, addressing the needs of wild turkey populations. The announcement was made during the 12th National Wild Turkey Symposium, a gathering of state and federal wildlife agencies, wild turkey researchers, land managers and enthusiasts focused on wild turkey habitat. and population restoration.
“Supporting research is key to the future of wild turkey and the NWTF,” said NWTF Co-CEO Kurt Dyroff. “We are thrilled to support these vital projects made possible through the generous support of Mossy Oak, the NWTF Foundation, various NWTF donors, and NWTF’s Help the Yelp project. »
Dedicated funding will be leveraged multiple times, resulting in over $2.5 million in research to benefit wild turkeys. In addition to the most recent allocation of more than $360,000 in funding, the NWTF has committed $8.3 million to research over its nearly 50-year history.
Wild turkey researchers have submitted project proposals through NWTF Wild Turkey Research Proposal Request, a program that facilitates and makes significant investments in support of priority wild turkey research. This year, the NWTF invited proposals that investigate the dynamics and drivers of the “post-restoration era.” Applicants should address one or more of the following research priorities: disease, habitat, influence/relationship with hunters, population estimates, and survival. The proposals were scored and ranked by NWTF staff and the NWTF Technical Committee on the applicability of the projects, the scientific rigor, the commitment of the partners and the guaranteed matching funds.
The projects approved for funding are:
- “Estimating Survival and Productivity of Translocated Turkeys in North Dakota” studies the survival and reproduction of translocated nuisance turkeys compared to control birds in western North Dakota. Nesting activities, causes of mortality, and rates of infection and exposure will be explored.
- “Impacts of woody understory vegetation and invasive species on roosting habitat potential for wild turkeys” will complement a Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife priority of examining the evolution of roost site habitat in the Rolling Plains region of Texas. The study will classify non-native invasive vegetation and species, then conduct an assessment of changes to the Edwards Plateau to determine the impact.
- “Vital Rates and Population Growth of Merriam’s Turkeys in South-Central South Dakota” estimate the annual survival and reproductive probabilities of adult and yearling year-classes of wild turkeys. The data will allow population rates to be estimated, with the results compared to conditions in the mid-1980s.
- “New approaches to estimate wild turkey population parameters” will use non-invasive techniques to collect DNA samples from eight sites across Mississippi. A portion of the study areas will work in conjunction with wildlife management areas in an ongoing experiment to study the influence of a delayed and reduced spring season setting on populations and harvests. turkeys.
- “Rio Grande Wild Turkey Habitat and Genetic Connectivity, Disease Prevalence, and Survival in the Texas Edwards Plateau Ecoregion” will explore the abundance of turkeys in relation to the decrease in the number of hunters and turkeys captured in recent years. Environmental factors such as flooding, unmanaged grazing, and damage to vegetation are study areas. The impact of pests and diseases will also be considered.
- “Development and application of diagnostic techniques to better understand the impacts of tumor-causing viruses (LPDV and RV) in wild turkeys” examine where and to what extent disease is distributed throughout the body of infected wild turkeys.
- “Ecology of an unhunted wild turkey population” provides research on an unhunted population of wild turkeys at a large study site in South Carolina. The data collected will make it possible to analyze the behavior of wild turkeys in the absence of hunting activity, hunting pressure and the harvesting of males. The data will be compared to other populations in the Southeast and beyond.
“The projects we support demonstrate the partnerships and collaboration needed to understand what impacts wild turkeys across the country,” said Mark Hatfield, National Director of Conservation Services for the NWTF. “I’m confident that the network of researchers and managers across the country will use the same ingenuity that helped restore wild turkeys in North America to understand what drives wild turkey population health.”