[Editor’s Note: The video above highlights a rare raccoon spotted in Cleveland Metroparks.]
Wildlife officials use public reports of the birds to help estimate population sizes, predict population changes, and guide management decisions, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The surveys take place each year in July and August when female birds and their young are most active.
New research this year on wild turkeys includes the use of GPS monitors that will track the movement, survival, and nesting activities of 49 hens in eastern Ohio. The project is a partnership between the Division of Wildlife and the Ohio State University. It’s also part of a multi-state collaboration that involves Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, according to the ODNR.
In the early 1900s, turkeys disappeared from Ohio. State officials call their return a “conservation success story.” Just in the last couple of years, the state has reported above-average nest productivity for the birds which resulted in bountiful hunting opportunities.
“The Division of Wildlife restored turkeys in the 1950s by releasing birds from other states. Today, turkeys can be found across Ohio. Turkeys prefer a mix of wooded and open habitats and are often seen in the morning in fields near forests,” said the ODNR in a press release.
The state has been surveying the number of wild turkeys since 1962.
The state didn’t begin surveying the number of ruffed grouse until more recently, in 1999.
According to the ODNR, habitat loss has led to a decline in the grouse population since the 1980s. In addition, their -susceptibility to West Nile Virus has likely caused even further population declines since the early 2000s, according to officials.
If you spot one of these birds, here is what you should note:
- Wild turkey: Report the number of gobblers, hens, and young turkeys (poults.)
- Ruffed grouse: Note the number of adults and young spotted.
- The county where the bird(s) were seen, and include as many other details as possible.