Saturday, December 23, 2006

Technology Tells Researchers Where Wild Turkeys Roam


MINNESOTA-- Biologists in Minnesota will soon have a better understanding of wild turkeys and their movements in Northern regions because of National Wild Turkey Federation contributions to research totaling more than $10,000.

The NWTF's Minnesota State Chapter and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources each recently contributed $5,200 for a University of North Dakota research project to better understand wild turkey movements through different habitats.

Last year, the state chapter donated $5,000 to the project when 80 wild turkeys were released in Red Lake Falls and Thief River Falls, the sites of Minnesota's northernmost wild turkey releases. Fifty-nine of the turkeys were equipped with radio transmitters. This year, the NWTF and MDNR each purchased four Global Positioning System (GPS) transmitters that record turkey movements more accurately than the old-fashioned radio transmitters.

"In the past, researchers had to go to the field to record the locations of the birds," said Dave Neu, NWTF regional biologist in Minnesota. "That method only allowed records to be taken about four times per week. These units receive a GPS signal from satellites that is recorded 48 times daily. The unit falls off the turkey after a few months and is located by researchers with all of the data stored and ready to use."

The data collected will allow biologists to make better-informed decisions about transplanting and managing wild turkey populations in northern regions and will be complete in March of 2007.

During the past 25 years, Minnesota's wild turkey population has grown from a few birds to more than 30,000 across the state. Last year, hunters in Minnesota harvested more than 5,000 wild turkeys during the spring season.

"These projects are important to NWTF members because they help MDNR biologists make sound decisions on the state's wild turkey population," said Neu. "Minnesota's NWTF chapters have worked to improve turkey populations since 1976 by helping fund the MDNR's turkey trapping program, and our volunteers want to do all they can to continue improving wild turkey populations throughout the state."

For more information about the NWTF or its Minnesota chapters call (800) THE-NWTF.