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Wild Turkey response to forest restoration treatments in central Arizona

The wild turkey is a valuable game species occupying the ponderosa pine forests of Camp Navajo, Arizona. Forest restoration treatments on Camp Navajo involve removing accumulated leaf litter and over stocked tree stands through thinning and burning. This study should shed some light on how wild turkey populations respond to changes in resource availability directly attributed to forest restoration treatments. This project will determine the habitat use patterns of wild turkeys within forest restoration treatments, for subsequent comparison to post-treated areas.

Camp Navajo is located on the Coconino Plateau about 10 miles west of Flagstaff, Arizona.


Wild turkeys are currently being captured using rocket nets.  Turkeys are measured and released after being fitted with GPS satellite transmitters.   Tracking turkeys enables us to evaluate individual and group movements throughout pre-treatment, during, and post-treatment areas thereby revealing the effects of forest restoration treatments on turkey habitat use patterns in north-central Arizona.  Between 2003 and 2009, we transmittered 48 turkeys, both hens and toms, with VHF and Satellite transmitters.   Preliminary data suggests that both treated and untreated forests may provide important benefits to turkeys at different times of the year.  Since the impacts of forest treatments on habitat conditions for wildlife occur at multiple spatial and temporal scales, this year we are working with Northern Arizona University (NAU) to use remote sensing information for analysis.  NAU has developed effective forest monitoring tools that combine high-resolution (30m), multi-date satellite data with permanent forest plots. Synthesizing these data using repeatable regression tree algorithms and other modeling techniques is highly valuable for providing digital maps of pre- and post-treatment forest conditions and changes over time. The resultant forest structural parameters can be analyzed in a geographic information system (GIS), or other spatial modeling framework, to estimate how forest changes might impact wildlife habitat use and suitability.


Restoration treatments have great potential to affect wildlife communities living in the ponderosa pine forest. Restoration is expected to increase biodiversity and productivity at the herbaceous layer, which is expected to benefit some species of wildlife. However, these treatments are expected to decrease intra-stand structural diversity and inter-stand variation for several decades and possibly longer. The effect of forest restoration on the viability of wild turkeys within ponderosa pine forests is poorly understood. This study will help to determine the affects of ecosystem restoration on wild turkeys within the ponderosa pine community before decisions are made to restore large areas. 


For more information contact:

Vince Frary, Wildlife Specialist III, Arizona Game and Fish department, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086-5000.  
Phone: (928) 213-9591

Michael Ingraldi, Arizona Game and Fish Department, 5000 W. Carefree Highway Phoenix, AZ 85086-5000 .
Phone: (928) 523-5625 E-mail:

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