PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is asking the public to report sightings of wild turkey hens – both with brood and without – to help with research efforts. The Department is currently evaluating the state's wild turkey population which is believed to be growing based on the number of young reaching maturity and an increase in harvests reported during the spring hunting season which ended last month. The 2018 spring harvest was 190 birds, an increase of more than 20% from the 154 taken during the 2017 season.
Information gathered from the public is helpful in determining the number of young birds that survive after common causes of mortality such as predators, weather, and road kill are taken into account. The Division receives hundreds of brood reports annually that assist biologists with monitoring recruitment, population dynamics, and distribution of the wild turkey flock in Rhode Island.
DEM is actively working to protect and enhance wildlife habitat in Rhode Island forests and management areas to ensure healthier, more diverse, and abundant wildlife populations. DEM's turkey restoration program, which ran from 1980 to 1996, resulted in increased opportunities for the public to see and hunt wild turkeys. The restoration project released wild trapped birds that established new turkey flocks in Exeter, Burrillville, Little Compton, West Greenwich, Foster, Scituate, and Tiverton. Restoration of the wild turkey was funded by state hunting license fees and the Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration program.
The public is encouraged to report sightings via a brief online survey. For those that do not have internet access, brood reports can be made by calling the Division of Fish and Wildlife at (401) 789-0281.
For more turkey facts, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.