Episode 18: State of the Turkey Flock, Spring 2021

Lots of Pennsylvanians are thinking about turkeys as the state’s 2021 Spring Gobbler season is right around the corner! In this episode, host Matt Morrett talks with Pennsylvania Game Commission Wild Turkey Biologist Mary Jo Casalena about the state of the turkey flock, as well as some of her own professional experiences.

The answer to the No. 1 question our agency gets when it comes to spring gobbler season, “Why doesn’t the season open sooner?” is answered in this episode. Mary Jo explains why fall turkey harvest rates and habitat management strategies are both very important when it comes to managing wild turkeys in Pennsylvania. Details about why the Game Commission is leg banding males to get harvest rates and annual survival rates, a practice similar to waterfowl leg banding, is also included.

Mary Jo covers some of the challenges that are currently facing our wild turkey population and shares what the agency is doing to best monitor and manage those issues. Mary Jo also shares many facts and figures related to our turkey population, including the average life expectancy of our gobblers is three years old.

Mary Jo admits her favorite species to hunt is the wild turkey and “there’s nothing like the roar of the gobble in the spring.” In 7th grade biology class, Mary Jo decided she wanted to be a wildlife biologist to speak on behalf of wildlife. She recently celebrated her 28th anniversary with the agency, where she’s held a few positions, including pheasant biologist, then waterfowl biologist and now as the wild turkey biologist since 1999.

4 comments on “Episode 18: State of the Turkey Flock, Spring 2021

  1. JAMES TREACY says:

    Great podcast, keep them coming! I was wondering if there could be a correlation between lower turkey numbers and Fisher Cats. I own a farm in upstate PA (Wyoming County) and I am a part owner on two farms in NY (Cortland & Tompkins Counties). We run a lot of game cameras and we started noticing an increased number of Fisher cats in NY about 6 years ago while at the same time a reduced number of Turkeys on our farms. The same has happened on my farm in Wyoming county. I have started seeing a fair number of Fisher on my cameras there while at the same time reduced turkey sightings. We absolutely do not over hunt our turkeys, in fact we don’t allow more than 1 turkey to be shot on a farm by anyone even if they have 2 turkey tags and once a turkey is killed in one section of the farm we don’t hunt anymore turkeys in that area for the season.

  2. Denny G says:

    Good show- lots of info, thanks

  3. Roger "Catfish" Miller says:

    Matt, I really enjoyed listening to this Episode with you and Mary Jo. I am sure, what you all talked about, will answer a lot of peoples questions. I have known most of this because of being a NWTF member for many years, and I have helped Mary Jo with the early studies, back in the 2000’s with the collaring and banding. The problem that I have run into many times is, hunters don’t know what management area they are in. Keep up the good work…Catfish

  4. Jim Lickfeld says:

    I was fortunate enough to harvest a adult Tom this past spring. He flew down about 5:35am & I killed him before 6am. When I inspected his crop I was very surprised to find it FULL. Was all of that content consumed that morning or could it have been consumed pre-fly up the night before?

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