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SPECIAL REPORT: Recent floods in several central U.S. states have some hunters concerned about the impacts to wild turkey populations. However, wildlife biologists with the National Wild Turkey Federation say there isn’t need for concern.

“Hens haven’t started nesting in affected states such as Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio yet,” said Robert Abernethy, NWTF’s director of agency programs. “Until the floodwaters recede, the birds will simply move to higher ground or get into trees and move limb-to-limb to get out of the flooded areas.”

According to Abernethy, an overabundance of rain during the breeding and nesting season could cause problems by displacing wild turkeys from wet bottomlands. This is more a matter of inconvenience to hunters than to the wild turkey population in the area.

“If the floods were to occur later in the year, in April and into May when hens are laying and incubating clutches of eggs, some nests might be lost,” said Abernethy. “But for now, there is no real concern that the floods pose any real danger to wild turkey populations.” The recent storms are not likely to cause any major problems in turkey populations. However, if poults were hatching, it could be a different story.

“Extended cold rains in the first few weeks of a poult’s life can be devastating to the next year’s crop of turkeys,” said Dr. James Earl Kennamer, NWTF senior vice president for conservation programs. “In fact, rain after poults hatch is much worse than heavy rains during the incubation period.” Research conducted in New York showed that spring and summer weather plays a major role in turkey populations. Heavy rains during the nesting and poult seasons have more impact on turkey populations than harsh winters.

For more information about wild turkeys or weather impacts on turkey populations, contact (800) THE-NWTF.

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