A Synthesis Of Recently Completed, Ongoing, and Planned Research Related to Eastern Wild Turkeys by Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Member States: 2008 - 2021

While long heralded as one of North American conservation’s greatest successes, the Eastern wild turkey (Meleagirs gallopavo silvestris) and its management appears to be at a turning point. Most states encompassing the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) have documented recent declines in turkey population productivity and harvest. To address concerns associated with the trends, nearly five dozen different research projects have been undertaken throughout the SEAFWA geography in the past decade to increase understanding of wild turkey ecology and management. Twenty-six unique projects are investigating, or have investigated, various aspects of hunting and regulations, from documentation of basic harvest and survival rates, to associations between gobbling chronology and season timing, to hunter behaviors and impacts on wild turkey behavior. Nearly every SEAFWA member state has conducted, or has plans to conduct, research to describe key vital rates and better understand the factors affecting population dynamics in their state. Eighteen studies have addressed, or are attempting to address, concerns related to wild turkey habitat, their response to forest management, or the controversial application of prescribed fire during the nesting season. Five ongoing or recently completed projects have dealt with wild turkey predators, either directly or indirectly. Issues relating to diseases of wild turkeys are increasingly gaining more attention. A half-dozen studies have concluded or are ongoing which have looked at aspects of wild turkey disease ecology. Although wild turkeys continue to be one of the most studied game species in North America, there are still considerable knowledge gaps which will continue to hinder effective management of the species.