ODNR wants turkey, grouse sightings reported

Water and Wings by Ken Parrott

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife is asking citizen scientists to report wild turkey and ruffed grouse sightings in July and August for the summer brood survey.

Turkey and grouse brood surveys are used by wildlife biologists to estimate population status. Brood surveys rely on the public to report observations of all turkeys and grouse seen in July and August, when female birds and their young are active. Citizen scientists are encouraged to submit observations on the Wildlife Reporting System webpage at wildohio.gov or on the HuntFish OH mobile app.

Observers of wild turkeys are asked to report the number of gobblers, hens, and young turkeys (poults) seen. Information collected for ruffed grouse include the number of adults and young viewed. Be sure to record the date and county where the observation occurred. Biologists have annually tracked summer observations of turkeys since 1962. Grouse were added to the survey in 1999.

State wildlife agencies across the wild turkey’s range conduct similar surveys. Information submitted to Ohio’s brood survey help to predict population changes and guide turkey management.

Valid reports submitted by the public in 2021 show a statewide average of 3.1 poults per hen (from 1,143 reports). The 10-year average is 2.6 poults per hen. Results from the 2020 brood survey showed a return to the long-term average after a depression in turkey nest success, and the 2021 brood data was above average. The 2021 improvements in poult numbers were uniform across the state, although because of habitat availability turkey populations are stronger in the eastern and southern portions of the state.

Turkeys had disappeared from Ohio by 1904, and their return marks a conservation success story. Reintroductions began in 1956, and today, turkeys are common throughout much of Ohio. Turkeys can often be seen in fields along woods, especially early in the morning.

Grouse inhabit Ohio’s heavily forested regions. Grouse occur in the greatest numbers in young, regenerating forests, especially those less than 20 years old. Habitat loss has driven population declines since the 1980s. In addition, susceptibility to West Nile Virus has likely caused further population decline since the early-2000s.

• A new website, the Ohio Resource Connection, aims to build a network of forestry and wildlife professionals, habitat vendors, and landowners in the Buckeye State, according to the ODNR.

The Ohio Resource Connection is a partnership between ODNR’s Division of Wildlife and Division of Forestry, along with the Ohio Society of American Foresters and The Nature Conservancy. These partners are working to provide landowners with better access to habitat vendors and forestry and wildlife professionals through a single statewide network. These connections are designed to best meet the missions of partner organizations as well as landowner goals.

Forestry and wildlife habitat improvement projects are becoming increasingly important to many landowners in Ohio. The Ohio Resource Connection will be a useful tool to enhance these endeavors.

Improving habitat on private property has many benefits for landowners, the forests, wildlife, and other habitats in Ohio by increasing wildlife use of your property, improving soil health and water quality, boosting the aesthetics of your property, enhancing forest health and timber value, and providing the necessary food resources for wildlife.

Through ohioresourceconnection.com, landowners can find vendors who provide a variety of services including wetland construction and enhancement, invasive plant control, tree thinning, and planting. Landowners can also find contact information for forestry and wildlife professionals in their area through the website.

The program’s benefits extend to vendors, who gain advertising for their company, inclusion in a statewide network of forestry and wildlife vendors, a larger client list, networking with other professionals, exposure to training opportunities, and growth of provided services. Interested vendors should visit the Ohio Resource Connection site to learn more about being added as a listee.

Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!


Water and Wings by Ken Parrott

Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.

Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.