The National Wild Turkey Federation supports prescribed burning
The National Wild Turkey Federation recently issued a press release supporting the use of prescribed burns as an excellent way to improve wild turkey habitat. However, each spring wildlife managers and wildlife biologists hear from concerned hunters who don’t understand that prescribed fires in March, April, and May – some of which coincide with wild turkey nesting time – are far more beneficial than harmful to wild turkey populations.
A common misconception is that prescribed burns from March to early May are detrimental to wild turkey populations because they burn lots of wild turkey nests. However, the National Wild Turkey Federation’s wildlife biologists have research showing the years of improved nesting and brood habitat created by a growing season burn is far more important to turkey population than the loss of a few nests and individuals.
Without prescribed fire, unwanted plants and trees will shade out beneficial plants on the forest floor. While some nests are lost in spring burns, evidence shows that most hens will re-nest if they lose their first nest. The lush, new plant growth after the burn attracts a multitude of insects and provides food and shelter for growing turkey poults. Biologists also point toward evidence that spring is the historical time for cleansing fires in nature. Before the days of active fire suppression, spring lightning storms ignited fires that eliminated brush and opened forests up to new growth. Today’s prescribed fire regimen simulates nature’s original forest health plan.