COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Wildlife Division is asking citizen scientists to report sightings of wild turkeys and ruffed grouse in July and August for the summer brood survey.
Brood surveys of turkeys and grouse are used by wildlife biologists to estimate population status. Brood surveys rely on the public to report sightings of all turkeys and grouse seen in July and August, when female birds and their young are active. Citizen scientists are encouraged to submit observations on Wildlife Reporting System web page at wildohio.gov or on the OH Fish Hunt mobile app.
Wild turkey observers are asked to report the number of gobblers, hens and young turkeys (poults) observed. Information collected on ruffed grouse includes the number of adults and young observed. Be sure to record the date and county where the sighting took place. Biologists have tracked summer sightings of turkeys every year since 1962. Grouse were added to the survey in 1999.
National wildlife agencies throughout the wild turkey range conduct similar surveys. Information submitted to the Ohio brood survey helps predict population changes and guide turkey management.
Valid reports submitted by the public in 2021 show a statewide average of 3.1 poults per hen (from 1,143 reports). The ten-year average is 2.6 poults per hen. The 2020 brood survey results showed a return to the long-term average after a depression in turkey nest success, and the 2021 brood data was above average. Improvements in poult numbers in 2021 were consistent across the state, although due to habitat availability, turkey populations are stronger in the eastern and southern parts of the state.
The turkeys disappeared from Ohio in 1904, and their return marks a conservation success story. Reintroductions began in 1956 and today turkeys are common in much of Ohio. Turkeys can often be seen in fields along the woods, especially early in the morning.
Grouse inhabit heavily forested areas of Ohio. Grouse are found in greatest numbers in young regenerating forests, especially those less than 20 years old. Habitat loss has caused the population to decline since the 1980s. Additionally, susceptibility to West Nile virus has likely caused a further population decline since the early 2000s.
For more information on grouse and turkey, visit the Wildlife Guide page at wildohio.gov.