The 2017 turkey season is set to begin, just over a year after catastrophic flooding in much our region. How did it affect turkey populations for this year? We asked Cody Cedotal, Resident Small Game and Wild Turkey Program Manager, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, for an update. Here’s our Q& A with Cody:
Is there any way to measure last year’s tragic flooding on turkey populations this year? There is no real way to measure impact as it is difficult to estimate population for wild turkeys.
Any reason to think it may hurt the season? No reason to think it will hurt the season. To my knowledge, we received no reports of flood-related mortality of turkeys. The flooding occurred at a time when poults were nearly fully developed and capable of avoiding the event with the adult birds. The flooding was relatively short in duration (less than 7 days in most places) allowing turkeys to seek refuge on high ground and in the trees. Although habitat quality was temporarily impacted by growing season flooding, most of those impacts were short lived and those areas have recovered this Spring with a flush of new growth.
Are there are field surveys or anything that would give us a prediction of turkey populations, especially in north Louisiana, this year? We conduct a Summer Wild Turkey Survey each year to assess production throughout the state. Each year, survey volunteers record turkey sightings from July 1st through August 31. Based on the 2015 Summer survey, the production in NW LA was improved which would indicate moderate to good numbers of adult (2years old +) gobblers for this season. However, production in 2016 was down which would indicate fewer juvenile gobblers (jakes) for this year and 2-year old birds for next season. The attached Poult Map which summarizes this data for the past several years in each management region of the state.