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Will Gulsby’s Wild Turkey Research Highlighted in Alfa Farmer’s Neighbors Magazine

By May 30, 2023June 8th, 2023No Comments

Will Gulsby, associate professor of Wildlife Management and Ecology at Auburn University’s College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, has been featured in the May 2023 edition of Neighbors, a publication by Alfa Farmers, for his role in a cooperative wild turkey research project aimed at reversing the downward trend in Alabama’s turkey population.

The state of Alabama, known for its rich hunting traditions, experienced a significant decline in turkey populations over the past decade. To address this issue, Gulsby is working with a team of students, professors, public agencies and private industry to pinpoint problem areas and resolve turkey decline. The project, funded by Turkeys For Tomorrow and the Alabama Wildlife Federation, aims to identify the factors contributing to the decline and find effective solutions.

According to Gulsby, a confluence of issues could be responsible for the decline, including new diseases, predator shifts, reduced predator trapping, increasing feral swine populations and evolving technology. Habitat shifts are also a concern, as the conversion of open fields into pine plantations through programs like the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, has impacted nesting habitat for wild turkeys.

Gulsby’s research includes the analysis of hunter-harvested turkey carcasses for reproductive and disease issues. The team has also deployed nearly 100 autonomous recording devices, known as gobble recorders or song meters, across private and public land in different regions of Alabama. These devices capture audio data to determine trends in turkey abundance. Additionally, the team is tracking nesting and brooding locations using GPS transmitters on hens in Hale County and assessing vegetation measurements after hatching.

The Alabama Farmers Federation, a key partner in the project, funded the deployment of eight song meters in Bullock County to measure gobbling activity in areas with and without active trapping of feral swine. The results of these research efforts are expected to be available in the fall, providing valuable insights into effective land and wildlife management techniques.

Gulsby’s podcast, Wild Turkey Science, offers a platform to learn more about his preliminary findings and is accessible on various listening platforms.

Visit Alfa Farmers’ website to read the full article.

(Written by Allison Killingsworth)

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