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Testing and tracking turkeys

NSF Award:

Maine's Sustainability Science Initiative  (University of Maine)

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Maine researchers have discovered multiple pathogens in the local population of wild turkeys including Salmonella and Staphylococcus bacteria and an unusual avian pox virus (LPDV). Based on these results, the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department has temporarily halted wild turkey relocation-repopulation programs.

However, the significance of LPDV for wild turkey populations or the risks for domestic fowl are not currently understood, nor is it known whether identification of the bacteria and LPDV represents an emerging pathogen or a previously undetected endemic virus.

To learn more, undergraduate students at the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA), a partner in the Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) of the Maine Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), applied SSI models to investigate the pathogen challenge. Through range tracking, genetic analysis and sampling for microbial health, the students are helping to evaluate the impact the turkeys have on the region's agricultural and recreational landscape.

Approximately 50,000 wild turkeys reside across all 16 counties in Maine. The birds are perceived as a nuisance species by some stakeholder groups and a welcome addition to the landscape by others. To complicate matters, turkeys are susceptible to a number of infectious diseases and may be in close contact with hunters, agricultural workers and other animals.


  • researchers are tracking wild turkeys in maine for vulnerability to multiple pathogens
Wild turkeys in Maine are vulnerable to pathogens.

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