The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is asking Hoosiers to help locate wild turkey hens and chicks in July and August.
This is the second year DNR officials will rely on public input to better track wild turkey populations in the state.
From 1993 to 2015, wildlife biologists with the state fish and wildlife division and conservation officers recorded their observations of wild turkey hens and poults.
“We used to have roadside observation surveys,” said Steve Backs, wild turkey biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife. That was when DNR had more state staff — and there were more gravel roads that slowed down vehicles, allowing people to notice wild turkeys out in cornfields or near forest edges.
The new online survey system, launched last year, was modeled after ones used in other Midwestern states, Backs said.
This year’s survey has been modified to be more accurate.
The 2016 online survey allowed people submitting information to categorize wild turkeys as “unknowns” if they were not sure if they were hens (females) or gobblers (males). As a result, the category “gobbler” has been removed from the survey. Most people don’t realize that if they see adult wild turkeys with chicks, those adults are almost certainly hens. That’s because male wild turkeys form their own groups and do not associate with hens or poults during the summer months, Backs said.