Improving Wild Turkey Habitat in NWTF’s Allegany Mountains Focal Landscape

NWTF local chapters in Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Game Commission are collaborating to improve wild turkey habitat on game lands in the NWTF Allegany Mountains Focal Landscape.

Entering its third year in September 2020, the five-year project will revitalize nine game lands in three Pennsylvania counties, enhancing 704 acres of wildlife habitat in northwestern Pennsylvania.

“The northwest region of Pennsylvania does not contain the quantity or diversity of hard mast producing trees as other regions,” said Mitchell Blake, NWTF district biologist. “So it is important to manage these species properly where they are present.”

The project will improve hard and soft mast production by controlling woody competition around the mast-producing tree species.

“Undesirable tree species such as maple and birch can become problematic in stands due to ease of establishment and shade tolerance, and can drastically change stand composition and productivity,” said Blake. 

The undesirable trees surrounding mast producing tree species are being chemically controlled by using hack and squirt and basal bark chemical treatments, improving competitiveness, vigor and overall mast production of tree species such as oaks, hickories and cherry. 

Local Pennsylvania NWTF chapters — Northwest Thunderin’ Toms, Lake front Gobblers, Tamarack Turkey Talkers, Wilhelm Chapter and Kinzua-Allegheny Longbeards — collaborated super fund dollars, funding the project’s total cost of $77,405 over the next two years.

“Managing habitat for the benefit of wild turkeys is best accomplished on a landscape scale,” said Blake. “The Pennsylvania Game Commission has been promoting larger, landscape-scale projects in order to create earlier successional habitat, curb mesophication (keeping forests adapted to fire) of Pennsylvania forests and effectively control invasive species. To accomplish these landscape-scale management goals, NWTF chapters have been willing to partner with each other and provide greater collective funding amounts that can really move the needle.”

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