Management Planning and Habitat Modeling for Wild Turkeys (Meleagris Gallopavo Silvestris) in Virginia

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Virginia Tech


The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), prior to this study, knew little about stakeholder desires for wild turkeys, and had no modern means to assess turkey habitat. My objectives were to (1) identify stakeholders in management of wild turkeys in Virginia, assess their attitudes and opinions regarding turkey management, and incorporate that knowledge in developing a management plan for wild turkeys in Virginia; during this process, assess how involvement in a management planning process affects stakeholders and agency personnel, and (2) develop a preliminary habitat assessment for wild turkeys in Virginia.

I employed collaborative planning techniques to develop the management plan. I utilized surveys to assess changes in knowledge, attitudes, and opinions by the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) and VDGIF staff. I performed a review of wild turkey habitat requirements and habitat assessments, and utilized surveys and the Delphi method to select variables and suitability values for the habitat assessment.

The SAC improved their knowledge of wild turkeys, and the SAC and Wild Turkey Technical Committee, and became more accepting of public involvement in decision-making. Wildlife Bureau staff placed more importance on minority stakeholders' values, had more positive views of the agency and wild turkey management, and desired professional opinion in decision-making.

I developed a 2-step comprehensive habitat assessment for wild turkeys. The first step examines habitat at the landscape-level (5,167 acres); the second step applies a rapid habitat appraisal tool that uses aerial imagery and data collected from on-site inspection to assess habitats of <1,000 acres.



GIS, habitat, management planning, stakeholders, wild turkey