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Grundy County turkeys

April 10, 2016
Nick Buseman - Grundy County Conservation Operation Supervisor , Reinbeck Courier

Growing up in Grundy County and now working for the Grundy County Conservation Board for just shy of 15 years, the sight of a wild Eastern turkey was just about like seeing a black squirrel scurry up a large ash tee. Prior to the last three years traveling what few wild areas that are left in Grundy County I could recall seeing just as many all black squirrels as wild turkeys. Which I could easily say was less than 5.

Recalling my college courses they told us that wild turkeys need large tracts of continuous timber. Early research stated that it had to be at least 10,000 acres to allow turkeys to survive. In later years they had amended their data to say that to sustain a turkey population you needed a mature timber tract of 1000 acres with at least a 50/50 mix of mature hard woods and open grass land or crop ground. Since the reintroduction of the wild Eastern turkeys to Iowa many conservation researchers and enthusiasts have noticed populations of birds in small 2-3 acre woodlots. If you are familiar with Grundy County you know that you're not going to find 1000 acre stands of mature timber; let alone 200 acre chunks of mature hardwood lots.

In the past three years or so many residents along with our staff have noticed a shocking population increase of turkeys in our parks and other narrow woodlots in the county. In my early years employed here I recall seeing a lone hen a few times while working in a chunk of timber; only to fall to a predator or shortly migrate back to where she came from. This time seemed different, we finally had hens and toms migrate up the different creek corridors and establish a small population. As of right now we know of several different flocks that have produced young and are slowly increasing their populations. This is fascinating and awesome to see. The populations seem to be located along the Wolf Creek, Black Hawk Creek, and North Fork of the Black Hawk Creek. Logically these are the areas we would see birds because of the continuous tracts of habitat leading from the Cedar River and or connecting to the Iowa River corridor, and these areas are basically our only tracts of habitat.

With turkey seasons creeping up on us many residents have inquired about turkey hunting our wildlife areas. We discussed allowing turkey hunting at our last Conservation Board meeting and they have decided to keep the areas closed to turkey hunting this year, but to review it again prior to next year's seasons. The board came to the conclusion that they would like the populations to become more established before harvesting birds. We know that having a large flock inhabiting our parks is a long shot, but giving them every chance to succeed is a high priority of the board. To be able to see a Tom strutting in one of our mowed areas and to hear a thunderous gobble ring through Wolf Creek's oak ridge is amazing and something we hope can be here to stay.

 
 

 

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