DEC Seeks Local Help Tracking Turkeys

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking local landowners’ cooperation in helping collect information on wild turkey numbers on Long Island, in order to develop additional management options for the flock.

In 2009, the DEC announced the first Long Island wild turkey hunting season, a direct result of more than a decade of wild turkey reintroduction efforts by the DEC. 

Long Island’s wild turkey population is a relatively recent phenomenon. Populations of wild turkey on Long Island disappeared in the late 19th Century due to a reduction in forested habitat, as these environments were cleared for colonial farms and firewood. 

In the early 1990s, the DEC trapped approximately 75 wild turkeys in upstate New York and released these birds at three locations in central and eastern Suffolk County. The Long Island turkey population is now prevalent across Suffolk County and extends into pockets of eastern Nassau County.

“The reintroduction of turkeys to Long Island in the 1990s shows how a locally extirpated animal can be successfully reintroduced to an area with sufficient effort and attention,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “With this success comes the need to ensure the sustainable management of the turkey population today and into the future.”

Beginning this winter, DEC Region 1 (Long Island) will embark on a multi-year effort to capture wild turkeys and fit them with leg bands. Data collected from leg band returns will be used to measure the overall population size of turkeys on Long Island and help biologists evaluate management options. The DEC will conduct this work on public and private lands from January through March 2020.

To conduct this survey, DEC is looking for landowners in Suffolk County interested in allowing birds to be captured on their land for banding purposes. DEC Wildlife staff also are requesting the public notify the project coordinator if they see turkeys on their property on a regular basis.

Turkeys that are captured and banded will be immediately released at the same location. For more information on this project, contact the DEC’s regional wildlife office by phone at 631.444.0310 or by e-mail at wildlife.r1@dec.ny.gov. “Turkey Study” should be listed as the subject line in any e-mails.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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