Tracking Turkeys in PA

Wild turkeys in Pennsylvania (photo by Steve Gosser)

10 February 2022

In January the PA Game Commission kicked off of their largest ever study to count and track wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s wild turkey population has varied over the years from near extirpation in the early 1900s to a recent peak in 2001. The birds move around. When this graph began in 1995 there were probably no turkeys within the city limits of Pittsburgh. Now they are fairly common in Pittsburgh’s suburbs and the City’s large parks and greenways.

Wild turkey population variation in Pennsylvania (graph from PGC)

Since wild turkeys are game birds, PGC has always tracked the annual harvest numbers but now, to better understand turkey population dynamics, they will band more birds and track the movements of hens. To do so they will temporarily trap a flock to apply bands and, in WMUs 2D, 3D, 4D and 5C, they will tag 100 hens with transmitters. Click here for a WMU boundary map.

PA WMUs for wild turkey study beginning in 2002 (map from PGC

The PA Game Commission is asking the public to help locate flocks for the project. Report the location of any turkey flock you see between now and 15 March 2022 at this link: Rest assured that the project is not going to hurt or move any turkeys as PGC explains:

  • Birds are being leg-banded for population and research purposes ONLY.
  • GPS transmitters will be put on 100 hens in 4 WMUS (25 in each).
  • All turkeys trapped will be released on site – they will NOT be moved.
  • Location data are only used for research purposes (not law enforcement).

I’m tempted to enroll Frick’s and Schenley’s wild turkeys because I’d love to find out where they come from and where they go but they’re probably not eligible for the study. However we may learn the origin of new recruits when we see banded turkeys in the years ahead.

Where did you come from, turkeys?

Wild turkeys visit the garden outside WQED’s lunchroom, 30 Nov 2011 (photo by Stephen Baum)

Right now only the turkeys know for sure.

For more information see the PGC press release at: Report Turkey Flocks to Help With Research

p.s. The wild turkeys near the air conditioner crossed Fifth Avenue to visit WQED’s tiny garden in November 2011.

(photos by Steve Gosser and Stephen Baum, graph and map from PGC)

6 thoughts on “Tracking Turkeys in PA

    1. Thanks for the feedback. If you see a way to tell PGC please let me know. I will try to find a way too.

    1. We live in hellertown northampton we see 3 hens and 1 male since early spring

  1. We saw a wild turkey in the neighborhood Austin Heights section in old forge on Saturday June 18 2023

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