Public Called Upon to Track Wild Turkey's Population

Jun 7, 2013

The Department of Environmental Management is asking Rhode Islanders to keep their eyes out for wild turkeys. The call is intended to track the health of the state’s turkey population.

Hen turkey with brood poults.
Credit Brian Tefft / RI DEM

In the 1970s, habitat destruction almost wiped out Rhode Island’s wild turkeys. But trapping and restoration programs helped the turkeys rebound. The current state population sits at around 3,500 birds. But the DEM wants to get annual numbers. So the DEM’s principal wildlife biologist, Brian Tefft, is asking residents to call-in if they spot any drab colored turkey hens, with or without baby turkeys. He said it’s important to track of an animal with historic ties—think thanksgiving—to our state.

“You know as a charismatic and influential bird it ties in with the fabric of humans in Rhode Island. So it has a lot of values.”

Tefft said those values include watching and hunting the animal. The public helped identify 198 turkey brood sightings last year. Tefft said the findings help the state monitor the health of the species.

Via DEM: "To report wild turkey sightings, hens with or without broods, participants should record the date, location, and the total number of hens and poults seen.  The Turkey Brood Report Form Brood is available on DEM’s website at, under Timely Topics on the homepage. (401) 222-2771."

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