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KDWP, National Wild Turkey Federation to Fund Wild Turkey Research at Kansas State University

Wild Turkeys Photo Courtesy NWTF
Wild Turkeys Photo Courtesy NWTF

Wild turkey populations have seen declines across the Midwestern and Southeastern United States for the last two decades.

And in Kansas, turkey abundance indices, harvest and hunter success have declined substantially, as well. To address these declines, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks is partnering with the National Wild Turkey Federation to fund key wild turkey research at Kansas State University with researchers within the Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and College of Horticulture and Natural Resources.

The purpose of the study will be to examine wild turkey populations and ecology in Kansas to inform state harvest and habitat management. The research team will accomplish this by capturing and marking turkeys across Kansas with transmitters and leg bands to monitor their location and movements on sites inhabited by both Eastern and Rio Grande wild turkeys on public and private lands. Researchers will collect information on nesting, habitat use, reproduction and survival to ultimately inform population models, and harvest and habitat management decisions.

"We're excited about this opportunity to improve our understanding of wild turkeys in Kansas," said Kent Fricke, KDWP Small Game Coordinator. "KDWP staff are committed to learning and to informing our habitat and harvest management decisions. We look forward to working with the research team and NWTF to make this project successful."

NWTF is helping fund several key components of the research project, including funding a hen and poult foraging ecology study in Kansas, as well as a multi-state assessment of disease in Rio Grande turkeys in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

"We appreciate the support of NWTF for these important projects," Fricke said. "These additional projects will greatly enhance our understanding of key aspects of turkey ecology in Kansas and across the Midwest."

Fieldwork for the research project will begin in January 2024. Additional information about the NWTF-funded components of the research project can be found HERE and HERE.

(Information and photo courtesy KDWP and NWTF.)