New Brunswick

Researchers at University of New Brunswick say it's time to talk turkey

Researchers at UNB are asking people who see wild turkeys to let them know. They’re creating a database on New Brunswick’s wild turkey population.

Anyone who comes across a wild turkey is encouraged to send in the date and location

Jim Martin says he sees wild turkeys almost daily. (Jim Martin)

Researchers at the University of New Brunswick are asking people who see wild turkeys to let them know so they can create a database.

"People are seeing them and they've been here for a number of years," said wildlife biologist Graham Forbes, who's one of the scientists running the project. "In some places they're increasing."

With the help of citizen scientists and social media, Forbes said they hope to have a clear picture of where the turkeys are in the province and how many of them there are.

"We're also getting information from various sort of citizen science databases like eBird or iNaturalist and the Christmas bird counts done by bird watchers," Forbes said.

They'll also be keeping a close eye on brood surveys.

"That's an indication that they're breeding here …  and that's usually a better indication of the likelihood of the population persisting," he said.

Anyone who comes across a wild turkey is encouraged to send the date and location of the sighting to the Facebook page.

"It's hard to know how much that's happening in any particular area and in some places there's one or two get seen, other places it might be 10 or 12. So that's why we're trying to get a handle on relative abundance in different parts of the province."

Forbes said there are known pockets in the Woodstock area and the St. George area as well as along the St. Croix River.

The next step will be to map where it's predicted the turkeys are most likely to survive.

Graham Forbes says the wild turkey population is increasing in some parts of the province. (CBC)

Time for turkey hunt

Jim Martin, vice-president of the Charlotte County chapter of the Canadian Wild Turkey Federation, hopes the project will prove it is time for a turkey hunt in the province.

"We feel that the turkey population in the western half of Charlotte County is probably at carrying capacity. And they are very exciting game birds for hunting," he said.

Martin said he sees turkeys almost every day near his home, which is about 15 kilometres east of St. Stephen. He estimates there are probably 1,000 in the area.

Forbes said the project will run all summer, with a count in July.