Funding to help improve wild turkey habitat in Ohio

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After near extinction in the late 1800s, wild turkeys were successfully reintroduced to all 88 counties of Ohio, including the intensively farmed areas of the northwest. Wildlife biologist Mark Wiley said they can survive in these areas by settling in wooded areas along streams and streams and then enjoying grain left in farm fields. (Tim Daniel, Ohio Division of Wildlife, photo) Original caption:

COLUMBUS – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service has announced a statewide effort focused on creating and enhancing wild turkey habitat in Ohio.

Landowners and private producers can apply for funding under the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program. EQIP requests are taken continuously; However, interested property owners are encouraged to contact their local NRCS service center before the January 14 registration deadline for FY2022 funding.

Wild turkeys were out of the state for over 50 years before they were successfully reintroduced to southeastern Ohio in the 1950s. The wild turkey population grew and expanded for decades. through restoration efforts by the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Turkish National Wildlife Federation, improved habitat and adaptability of the species.

Although they are often associated with mature forests, wild turkeys successfully live in areas with as little as 15% forest cover. Wild turkeys are now found in all 88 counties of Ohio and have become the most popular game bird in the state.

Although Ohio’s wild turkey population remains relatively high, annual fluctuation is common. These fluctuations are largely influenced by the annual rates of reproductive success, particularly the survival of nests and young turkeys (poults). Several consecutive years of below average reproductive success have recently led to a decline in the number of wild turkeys. Providing quality habitat for wild turkeys increases the chances of successful nesting.

Landowners who implement these practices will not only promote wild turkey habitat, but further increase the value of their property for other species such as songbirds, white-tailed deer, eastern cottontail rabbits and pollinators.

Property owners interested in EQIP funding for wild turkey habitat should contact their local Ohio USDA service center or visit the Ohio NRCS EQIP web page for more details.

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