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From 1984 and through the early 2000s, the Division of Fish and Wildlife released Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) into the state in an effort to reestablish a turkey population in Delaware.
With support from the National Wild Turkey Federation, state biologists released 34 wild-trapped turkeys into Kent and Sussex Counties in 1984. The birds had been trapped in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont.
Re-introductions continued and, once the population had established a foothold in Delaware, a hunting season was started in 1991.
Today, the Division estimates Delaware has a healthy statewide population of more than 6,000 birds. State biologists work with volunteer observers to gather information on turkey distribution and annual reproductive success.
Since 2010, the Division of Fish and Wildlife has used an annual, volunteer-based survey to record observations of wild turkeys across the state during the months of July and August.
The survey generates an index of annual turkey productivity and recruitment (the ratio of young birds per adult females). The survey also helps track the health and distribution of the turkey population and evaluate potential regional differences in reproductive success within Delaware.
Participants record observations of turkeys in the months of July and August during the course of their daily activities. Using a Division-provided data sheet, participants record the date and number of gobblers (adult male), hens, and poults seen during each observation.
Participants also record the Wildlife Management Zone (WMZ) in which each encounter occurred. Delaware is divided into 18 WMZs.
Use the Wild Turkey Observation Form to record the date, county, and number of adult hens, gobblers, and poults (young of the year) you observe. Use the Wildlife Management Zone map to determine which zone you are in. Avoid duplicate sightings. If you see a brood in the same place several days in a row, only record them once.
Submit your completed forms by September 10 via email, fax (302-653-6755) or at the address below:
Turkey Observation Survey
c/o Division of Fish and Wildlife
6180 Hay Point Landing Road
Smyrna, DE 19977
For more information, contact gamebird biologist Justyn R. Foth, Ph.D., at 302-735-3600.