Wild Turkeys

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bc59's picture
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I don't know if other people have noticed, but wild turkeys have taken up residence in lower merion township. Just today I saw a hen turkey a block away from my house, on someone's front lawn in Bala Cynwyd, about 15 feet away from me. The turkey seemed fairly tame. I was wondered if any of you also had seen turkeys.

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dmuth's picture
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If you get any pics, please post them!

You can upload the pictures to the photo sharing site http://www.flickr.com/ and then use the sharing features to post them here.

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politeia's picture
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I've been seeing a lot of red fox around LM and Radnor while driving at night.

It's not just deer that have adapted to a suburban environment.

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Not to be a downer, but it could also be that the wild turkeys and foxes are being seen more in the suburbs because development is driving them out of other previously wooded areas.

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politeia's picture
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That's what I also meant and is what is obvioulsy happening.

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hear say's picture
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Or that foxes are taking over because there is no one trapping or hunting foxes around here anymore. And Coyotes are taking over because we are overpopulated with deer. Turkeys are moving out of the big woods as the understory recovers.

Our cabin lies adjacent to over 20,000 acres of big woods. We have seen the woods chaneg over the past 5 years with the reduction in deer. We have also seen turkeys frequently on our 1/2 acre cleared lot. We also have been seing them ont he neighbors lots. They ahve not been chased out of our woods by anything. They prefer open spaces and our woods are no longer open, so they have moved into the open space around our cabins. The cabins are 1 mile off of the paved road. We used to almost never see turkeys at the cabins. Now they are there almost everytime we pull in the driveway in the warmer 3 seasons. I think they are beibng forced to expand their range because we were borderline overpopulated with turkeys in the big woods and the environment int he woods is not longer comfortable to them. Of they are invasive feral turkeys. Thats why I asked the question int he first place.

The turkeys will probably thrive in the suburban environment. Theer are plenty of trees in which to roost and tons food for them.

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politeia's picture
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I assume you cabin is next to state game land, a state forest or park. I’d be curious to know the SGL number or park/forest and what you feel is pushing the wildlife out as this is supposed to be conservation land and I am involved in this a bit - and certainly know who to talk to about it.

Do you feel it is just an pover-population issue even in open forests, in which case bag limits need to be increased for hunters? I personally find most SGL's and state parks are not over-puopulated, but obvioulsy I have only hunted in a small percentage and prefer private property with permission.

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hear say's picture
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Our cabin is adjacent to a piece of state land that no one know which agency owns. It tax records just state GSA. It may have been purchased as watershed for a lake which was never built. I have gone through trying to buy the land as it has some FABULOUS timber. That parcel is about 600 acres. It ajoins a YMCA camp that is about 1200 acres which is our hunting club during the winter. It also ajoins SGL 187 which is 8186 acres. 187 ajoins SGL 119 which is 7949 acres as well as Nescopeck State Park which is 3550 acres. There are substantial private wooded parcels around the state land. Most of the state land has not been timbered in 75 years. Our hunting club at the camp was timbered selectively 7 years ago. Only a few roads cross the woods and there are no fire breaks.

10 years ago, it was possible to see 150 yards in the woods and the forest floor was bare for the most part. The only thing that grew was ferns. Now there is a substantial understory and it is hard to find a place where you can see for more than 50 yards in the winter. Some places are so thick it has become hard to walk through. The deer love it and they are healthier than ever. We have a very substantial coyote population. I harvested a 6 1/2 year old deer 2 years ago with a 22 inch spread. It weighed 205 field dressed. 15 years ago, I harvested a 3 pt buck that weighed about 80lbs field dressed. The Game Commission aged that deer at 5 1/2. The differance was that 15 years ago, I probably saw 50 deer a day while hunting. Now I am lucky if I see 5.

about 7 years ago, our turkey population EXPLODED. Anytime of the year, it was easy to find flocks of 50-100 birds. I saw them almost everytime that I hunted deer. Frequently, does would be embedded withh the turkeys. I hunted does by finding the places where the turkeys fed and waited for them to work their way though. The past 2 years, the turkeys seem to be harder to find in the woods, but easier at the cabins. My theory is that the woods are so thick, that the turkeys dislike being in the woods and wander to the edges. Couple that with the fact that the turkey population exploded several years ago due to decreased competition with the deer for food and you can see the problem. There are a lot of turkeys, and the woods are no longer comfortable like they were a few years ago. Turkeys like to see danger and run away from it. Right now, they cannot see and they cannot run. In other parts of the country, people seem to hunt turkeys at the edges of the woods in fields. In the past, that never worked for me. But, find a open area in the woods and start calling, and the birds almost slways showed up.

We all knew that reducing the deer herd would help the other animals that live in the woods. With the turkeys, it helped them and then hurt them as the understory recovered. On a brighter note, we are seeing the first grouse flushes that we have seen in a decade.

Last summer, I saw a coyote cross Upper Gulph Rd at 2 in the afternoon.

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politeia's picture
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It would makes some sense that the turkeys are moving out of dense woods - and especially if they become too dense. They often prefer open land during the day for feeding and socializing as it provides a good view all around and no cover for predators to sneak up on them - even though they do not have many natural predators. It is instinct.

Also, if you are seeing flocks of 100, they will decimate an area of food sources pretty quickly and move to new locations (and out of the woods) seeking new locations to graze for food. Perhaps your private land is less wooded with open area that has good food sources.

Seems to me, at least for select areas, the state needs to look into upping the bag limit for hunters.

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hear say's picture
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Our lot where the cabin certainly is more open. The hunting club property is thicker with almost no mast due to the timbering. I generally do not hunt the club property, but use it for its ease of access into the back side of the state land. In the fall when 100 turkeys come to you feeding, it sounds like a team of men raking leaves. We are definately overrun with them, or rather we were.

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hear say's picture
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The question is whether they are feral turkeys or wild turkeys. The feral turkeys tend to be more agressive and adaptive. Wild turkeys tend to be shy, but often seen out in the open. Wild turkeys use their eyes as their main defense. That means that they prefer to be out in the open or in relatively open environments so that they can see any possible danger approaching.

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bc59's picture
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This turkey was right out in the open! I had heard that there was a program to re-stock wild turkeys in PA, so it could be one of those, and perhaps is fairly tame because there are few predators and no hunters in the area. I will try to get a photo next time!

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hear say's picture
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The wild turkey program was about 20-30 years ago. They are doing very well if not too well in most of the state. When the deer herd was too big in most of the state the forest floor was opened up in the big woods. This allowed the turkey population to explode and the grouse population to crash. There were several years a few years back that I regularly saw flocks of 60-90 turkeys while deer hunting in the mountains. Since the policies were changed and the deer herd was brought to a healthier level, the understory of the woods has regenerated and the grouse populations has come back. The turkey population will suffer eventually, but maybe the turkeys are moving away from the newly brushy big woods and back into the farms and residential areas (open areas in which they feel more comfortable). I have never seen a wild turkey closer than French Creek state park to Philadelphia.

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bc59's picture
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My husband also hunts- he usually only sees turkeys in deer season and deer in turkey season, lol! its funny how many times he has gone hunting for turkeys and never gotten one, and here they show up practically in our backyard!

I didn't know about turkeys being aggressive-this one was a female and maybe they are less so? But googling came up with this link...perhaps we should bring along an umbrella on our walk next time just in case!!

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6504117

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carla's picture
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I see them all the time - and I have friends over around Chestnut Hill/Lafayette Hill who have tons of them around and one friend from high school told me some of the ones near her were a bit aggressive - pecking at car tires when they didn't like where her husband had parked the car on their driveway - they did not see a nest so they weren't sure why.

But turkeys can be as nasty as geese although they are cool to look at.

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hear say's picture
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http://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/National-Wildlife/Birds/Archives/2008/The-Case-of-the-Terrorist-Turkeys.aspx

Meanwhile, Chris Heil, a Pennsylvania wildlife conservation officer in the Philadelphia area, has a similar dilemma with not-quite-wild turkeys that multiplied briskly after a misguided hunter turned them loose in local parks several years ago. As Heil explains, these birds are domestic bronze turkeys used for hunts on private shooting preserves.

Pennsylvania Game Commission biologists are concerned that these feral turkeys carry domestic fowl diseases, including avian flu, that could wipe out the state’s thriving wild turkey populations. The commission has given Heil orders to shoot feral birds on sight. This approach has made substantial inroads on bronze turkey numbers, but complaints about gobbler disturbances are unlikely to go away soon—the real McCoys aren’t all that far from Philly’s outskirts.

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politeia's picture
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This seems to be an issue everywhere. Tame/domesticated wild turkeys somehow are now all over Nantucket - a small island 30 miles out at sea. They were never there before - and a turkey can't fly for 30 miles, it is not an organized conservation or hunting group that is doing this, so someone is bringing them out there for whatever reason.

As a hunter, I can tell you a truly wild turkey is one of the toughest type of game to hunt and bag. They don't want to be near anything other than other turkeys, except in the spring when the males don't want to be together and the females nest alone once they lay eggs. Rest of the year, females and young males (jakes) are quite social. Older males (toms, gobblers) tend to stay to themselves all the time.

I would never hunt one of these domesticated turkeys as there is no challenge. 35 years ago turkeys were about to become non-existent in this country. The national population was under 1.5 million.

Then a group of hunters formed the NWTF and started "stocking" rural hunting areas with wild turkeys and the population has ballooned to over 7 million nationally and the NWTF has about 350,000 members today who give financial and hands on conservation support to this non-profit. I'm a proud member. Hunting is needed to control the population at this point, as like deer, natural predators are almost non-existent. You are allowed to harvest one tom in the spring and one tom or hen in the fall hunting in PA, but you can take a second gobbler in the spring with a "special" wild turkey license, which is just a way for the state to make more money if you want to bag another gobbler. I think they may up it to two in the spring under the general license to control the population soon enough.

Ben Franklin actually thought the turkey should be the national bird:

For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country...

I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.

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~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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hear say's picture
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On Martha's Vineyard, people actually know who released the feral turkeys. The bummer is that the state game people will not stock wild turkeys on the island because they are afraid they will interbreed and contaminate the wild turkey population on the Cape.

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piZap.com free online photo editor, fun photo effects

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I saw a wild turkey in Bala, right behind Lord & Taylor on St. Asaph's. It was about 8am, and the thing was running around trying to duck cars and find cover. It ended up in a stand of trees by the offices at Bala Plaza. Seemed so random at the time, but perhaps sightings are more common than I imagined. BTW: If people site interesting wild life, report it to the Lower Merion Conservancy, as they keep track of LM fauna!

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politeia's picture
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Wow. That's a really surprising location for a wild turkey as it's quite a dense urban type area. Residential areas with large lots are not surprising, but where you saw that turkey is.

I wonder when the township will start taking out these wild turkeys because they are a Danger to Domestic Animals? A wild turkey is certainly much more ferocious than a chicken.

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How long until the bears start showing up? I heard that there are bears in every county in Jersey. I remember a story a few years ago about one in Exton. I bet Fairmount Park could handle a few bears. I am surprised they are not in Gladwyne already.

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http://www.thingsbearslove.com/

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