Each year from June to August, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) conducts a survey to monitor wild turkey reproduction across the state. The "brood survey", as it is commonly known, enlists numerous observers who note all turkeys seen during the three-month survey period.
The resulting information allows turkey biologists to measure reproductive success and gives hunters an objective look at how turkeys are faring across the Magnolia State.
Dave Godwin, the MDWFP Wild Turkey Program Coordinator, reports that the brood survey data indicates reduced turkey reproduction for much of the state during 2013. "We witnessed our best hatch in over a decade last summer, but unfortunately it was followed up with a decreased hatch in most areas this year," said Godwin.
According to Godwin, the proportion of hen wild turkeys observed with young in 2013 declined 43 percent from the previous year's tally, and the average brood size dropped substantially as well.
Adam Butler, MDWFP Wild Turkey Program Biologist, suggests several factors that could be responsible for this year's decreased hatch. "We had an unusual spring this year. Springtime nesting activity seemed delayed as a result of the late winter and cool spring, and the later the birds get started nesting, the worse they tend to do," Butler said.
He also pointed out that untimely rains during the nesting and early brooding period likely had a negative impact. Another factor could be the abundant hatch of 2012, which may have skewed the population in favor of juvenile hens.
Research has shown that young hens tend to nest less frequently, and they are often not as successful.
For more information regarding wild turkeys in Mississippi, visit www.mdwfp.com.
source: Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks