Wild turkeys

An adult wild turkey and poults cross into the brush. Delaware's Department of Fish & Wildlife are asking the public to help track the species' population in July and August.

The Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control is looking for volunteers to help with its annual wild turkey productivity survey during July and August.

The public is being encouraged to monitor and report wild turkey sightings in Delaware to provide data that helps DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife sustainably manage the state’s turkey population. Since the annual wild turkey productivity survey began in 2010, Delaware’s citizen-conservationists have helped collect information on turkey populations within the state by generating consistent data on turkey distribution, productivity and sex/age ratios.

The 2020 survey period runs from July through August. Upon each wild turkey sighting, volunteers are asked to record the date, county, turkey management zone and number of hens (adult females), gobblers (adult males) and poults (young of the year). Volunteers are asked to submit their results to the division by Sept. 10.

Instructions, a data sheet, and a map of turkey management zones are available for volunteers to download at dnrec.delaware.gov and a wild turkey identification guide can be obtained on the ID Guide page at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Hunting/Documents/Wild Turkey ID chart.pdf or by calling the Wildlife Section at (302) 735-3600, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Additional information is available at the division’s wild turkey webpage at https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/fish-wildlife/hunting/wild-turkeys/.

The reintroduction of the wild turkey into Delaware over three decades ago, nearly 200 hundred years after it became locally extinct, is considered one of Delaware’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories.

After the initial release in 1984 of 34 wild-trapped turkeys into Sussex and Kent counties from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont, division biologists with support from the National Wild Turkey Federation continued turkey reintroductions through the early 2000s. Once the wild turkey population had established a foothold in Delaware, a hunting season was established in the spring of 1991 that has been a continued annual tradition, with wild turkeys now found in nearly every corner of the state.