Tennessee Officials Record Impressive Numbers After Statewide Turkey Count

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo Credit: Getty)

On Monday (October 17th), the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) shared a survey that revealed impressive numbers after a statewide turkey count was conducted. 

According to WATE, the turkey survey was conducted between June 1st and August 31st. The agency reported that its biologists were “blown away” but the participation of this year’s survey and thanked participants for being part of the survey. The data collected from both the public and staff were used to survey the formulated Turkey Status Report and the agency’s ongoing Wild Turkey Management Plan. 

It was further reported that some initial numbers that were shared by the agency included nearly 36,000 turkeys being counted by the public with data from all 95 countries in Tennessee. TWRA then counted 7,341 from 84 countries. It was also noted that 4,243 public observations met the criteria for being included in the survey, along with 1,284 staff observations. 

“A huge thank you to all who took the time to report observations during the summer!!” TWRA declared. “We truly appreciate the help and hope folks will join in next summer too. A full summary will be completed and posted to our website in the coming months as part of TWRA’s annual turkey status report.”

The agency explained that its staff has been counting turkeys during everyday work activities in the summer since the ‘80s. “That has served well to get a broad picture of how turkeys are doing on a statewide scale. But if you break up Tennessee into regions, there isn’t enough data to tell us about these smaller areas. Unfortunately, there simply are not many staff members in some parts of the state.” 

The next Wild Turkey Observation Survey will begin on June 1, 2023.

Wild Turkey Population in Tennessee Was Previously Reported As Declining 

In July 2022, Roger Shields, Tennessee wild turkey program coordinator revealed that the state’s population has been slowly dwindling. It has notably done so over the past decade. And no one seems to know why. 

“Reproduction not being what it used to be is the main driver,” Shields stated. “But why the reproduction has been falling off is something that’s still a question in our minds.”

The TWRA wanted the Tennessee residents to participate in the turkey survey in order to get an accurate number of the bird’s population in the state. “We just don’t have enough staff in our agency,” Shields explained. “Even with our cooperators, to really cover the whole state.”

Shields did say that Tennessee has a large number of wild turkeys. He also revealed that Middle Tennessee especially has a high concentration. This is due to the area’s mix of forest cover and open areas. So, it is still a mystery as to why the population is reportedly declining.