Iowa hunters reported a record number of wild turkeys taken in the just-ended season at the same time the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is studying the population decline of the birds.

DNR wildlife research biologist Jim Coffey says they’re researching a disease known as LPDV. “LPDVstands for Lymphoproliferative Disease — which is a relatively new disease to the wild turkey world. And we are not sure what the impact is or has been on wild turkeys,” Coffey says. Hunters were asked to submit a lower leg bone from their birds — and they will be tested for the disease to try and answer some questions.

He says they want to know if the state has the disease and then where the disease is located in the state. “And then we’ll start to look at that data compared to some of our historical bird surveys and population estimates to see if there is any kind of correlation,” Coffey says.

Coffey says the wild turkey decline has happened in other states and each is trying to figure out why. “There’s several speculations — and Iowa has chosen to kind of look at the LPDV version of it — whereas other states are looking at other aspects, so we can double up our efforts in trying to solve this mystery,” according to Coffey. He says getting the information from the samples supplied by hunters will let them move to the next step.

“Usually the typical pattern in diseases pass through. They impact the population and then they fall off and the population recovers,” Coffey says. “The first aspect is to try and determine do we have it and then is there anything that we can do as managers — was it something that we just have to plan for in our hunting strategies– so that we have to look at how many birds are available to the people of Iowa to hunt.”

Coffey encourages hunters who still have a lower turkey leg and want to participate in the study to go online to to request a packet.

(DNR photo)