Iowa DNR Research Update (Year 2)

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Turkeys For Tomorrow’s focus on the conservation of the wild turkey is not limited to one region, we are working to save the wild turkey in all regions of North America. Our partners at the Iowa DNR have been implementing practices and conducting research for the past two years that is providing vital information to their biologists and enabling them to make sound decisions related to the wild turkey. This research can be utilized throughout the country.

Dan Kaminski, a wildlife biologist with the Iowa DNR, has been marking hens and poults with GPS or VHF/radio transmitters since 2021. This has enabled Dan to evaluate population demographic parameters related to hen and poult survival, cause-specific mortality, and nesting rates. Some of Dan’s findings have been in line with the trends that TFT has seen in other states as well as in research that they have funded. A portion of Dan’s research is listed below and gives a glimpse into the challenges the wild turkey is facing in Iowa. These results are only for one year and so additional years of data are needed to understand how these numbers fit into the greater picture of turkey reproduction in Iowa.


Overall, for 2022:

● A total of 73 hens were marked last winter.

● As of early August, 27 hens have died for a mortality rate of 38%.

● Of 63 hens available to nest starting on May 1, only 7 nests hatched successfully (i.e., hatched at least one egg; 11% hen success rate).

● Of 33 hens marked with GPS transmitters, 7 hens did not incubate a nest, 17 incubated 1 nest, 8 incubated 2 nests, and 1 incubated 3 nests.

● Most of the nest failure was due to predation, however, one nest failed due to hay mowing and one failed due to abandonment by the hen

● The median day of nest failure was 8 days, and a preliminary nest survival model indicates 50% of nests failed by day 10 of incubation.

● Of the 7 nests that successfully hatched, the average clutch size was 9.9 eggs per nest and the average number of eggs hatched was 7.7 eggs per nest.

● Of the 54 eggs that hatched, 18 poults were observed during poult captures conducted within 1-3 days post-hatch and a total of 12 poults were marked with


VHF/radio transmitters.  During 4-week flush counts for 6 of the 7 hens that hatched a nest, a total of 4 poults remained alive. One hen was not flushed because her transmitter failed prior to the 4-week flush count. Much like the Alabama survey conducted by Dr. Will Gulsby these results clearly show that there is a serious issue in nesting, hatching of a brood, and the survival of a brood. Through a collaborative effort with TFT various state DNRs and Wildlife Biologists hope to identify trends and statistics that are prevalent in all areas where studies are being conducted. This information will prove vital to decisions that can be made to implement changes needed to help the wild turkey survive and prosper.



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8 thoughts on “Iowa DNR Research Update (Year 2)”

  1. 18 poults for 63 available hens? Thats about one poult per 3.5 hens. They arent even replacing themselves at that rate. I can’t imagine this is sustainable.

  2. Just curious, public or private? Is trapping taking place where the hens were tagged? If public is private land surrounding the public and is trapping taking place? Was the cause of the 38% hen loss determined? Were the 7 hens that didn’t attempt a nest young of the year or lack of gobblers to mate? Those are some serious scary numbers, especially the hen loss.

    1. Just saw this site goggling about start Iowa turkey count on July 1 (today). Was out by house saw hen with 14 very little chick’s. Very encouraging. May have something to do with taking over 100 raccoons off farm each last 2 years

  3. This is truly sad news, but not unexpected after watching the hatch here on the farm this year. As was previously asked, is this public or private land ? Is there any thoughts on altering the predator population before next year’s hatch ?
    Glad to see updates, wish it was more optimistic results. Thanks to all participants for their efforts. Maybe we can get ahead of the problem in the future.

  4. I know personally on out property we would take advantage of a more liberal trapping season
    We primarily deer hunt and the trapping season opens during the deer season. Anybody the deer hunts knows you can’t be in running trap lines every morning messing up the deer patterns
    Later into the trapping season your fighting the freezing of the traps etc…
    I would suggest a early trapping/nuisance season starting in March and running into June.

  5. I live on a farm where gps transmitted birds live. I have seen the Turkey population drop over the last 5 to 10 years. I have also seen bobcat and raccoon numbers increase. Bobcats are common. I also wonder effect these transmitters have on bird survival. My background wildlife biologist in 1970’s. Where we trapped turkeys and introduced birds in different locations.

  6. Wonder what counties these were done in, been doing turkey since 2015, do different public hunting land, and by my own eyes, not the case….at all. but Iowa DNR is known in Iowa not to know right hand from left, heck be shocked if they remember to use toilet paper to wipe their own butts.

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