This past winter (2013-2014) was one of the most severe in many years. Temperatures remained below freezing for several months, with deep snow depth and high winds. It was truly a very brutal winter especially on those species of wildlife that did not migrate or hibernate.
Several MWTHA chapters were purchasing and distributing shelled corn to thousands of Wild Turkeys. We did our best to get the word out that there was support available for turkey flocks, realizing at the same time that any turkeys that could not find a food source would not survive.
Several chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) were contacted possibly for financial support and in the least to get the word out that support was available to those people supporting turkeys. One who had a successful banquet advised that they did not have the money but would call the state chapter president and get back to us. We are still waiting for the call. The other chapter advised that they did not support winter flocks but rather sold food plot seed at a reduced cost.
During the very depth of this brutal winter we expected that our DNR would publish a winter severity index and show concern for our wildlife. When none came the Cadillac News was contacted. A suggestion was made to the editor that and article about the effects of this winter is having on wildlife would be of interest to many readers. He agreed and one of his reporters did a great job of writing several articles. The DNR deer specialist told how deer cope with the effects of winter and the importance of aspen. The upland bird specialist also mentioned the value of young aspen. Wild Turkey was never mentioned. They did not seem to share our concern. When the late spring arrived and the snow melted we received reports of farmer and others finding tiny fawns in the wood that does had aborted due to winter conditions. Turkeys that had died were rendered to a few scattered feathers.
At the April Natural Resources Commission Wildlife Division Chief, Russ Mason advised huge losses of the turkey population occurred in the northern lower and upper peninsulas. Fall turkey hunting regulations are set in March which is still in the grips of winter. The turkey population throughout the northern lower peninsula has seen an annual decline and in many areas they have disappeared completely. Knowing these facts and the effect of the winter how could the DNR possibly continue a fall season in the northern and upper peninsulas?