State biologists need volunteers to count wild turkeys

Grand Strand

COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) – Areas like the Grand Strand have seen a lot more people moving in, but South Carolina has been seeing a decline in a different kind of population: Wild turkeys.

The state department of natural resources is looking for volunteers to keep track of wild turkeys this summer.

“Annual reproduction is best measured this time of year with turkeys because they nest in the spring and hatch in May, June and early July,” said DNR wildlife biologist Jay Cantrell, who’s also an assistant big game coordinator.

The DNR’s survey, run every year since 1982, asks people to count turkeys and their babies when they see them. The survey also asks respondents to mention if any turkeys spotted are male or female. Quails are also included in the survey.

The DNR says wild turkeys were reintroduced to all parts of the state about 40 years ago. They continued to spread until around the year 2000.

Cantrell says since then, several factors have reduced the turkey population throughout the southeast.

“It’s somewhat weather-dependent, but there’s also a lot of things out there that want to eat a turkey egg or eat a young turkey,” he said.

The DNR says about 300 volunteers take the survey each year. The results help DNR scientists make recommendations to state lawmakers for managing turkey populations in the future.

Cantrell also says you don’t have to spend a lot of time looking through empty fields.

“It’s a pretty easy thing and it’s not something that takes special effort because you don’t have to go and do a certain thing,” Cantrell said. “It’s just incidental to your daily activities.”

The survey started Sunday and will run through August 29. Completed surveys must be sent to the DNR by September 12.

Printed survey forms can be emailed to ruthc@dnr.sc.gov, faxed to 803-734-3691 or mailed to Summer Turkey Survey P.O. Box 167 Columbia SC, 29202.

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