In today’s episode, I discuss wild turkey diseases with Heather Fenton with the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, GA.
Dr. Fenton discusses Avian Pox, Blackhead Disease, Lympho Proliferative Disease, Salmonella, and other diseases that affect wild turkeys. We also discuss the symptoms of the diseases, the causes of the diseases, and the mortality rates of turkeys that get the diseases.
In addition, we discuss the likelihood that those diseases can be spread to humans. We discuss precautions to take while handling a bird we suspect to be diseased (as well as birds that we are cleaning/processing). We also discuss what to do if we harvest a bird that we suspect is diseased.
While we hunters can do nothing to cure a bird that is diseased, we can do a few things to prevent the further spread of these wild turkey diseases.
One of the ways that we can prevent the spread of diseases in wild turkeys is to avoid artificial feeding of birds. Artificially feeding wild turkeys concentrates birds into smaller areas for longer periods of time and increases the chances that an infected bird will come into contact with a healthy bird. Some wild turkey diseases are contagious among turkeys, and the disease spread within the flock.
The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study was founded in 1957 by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. SCWDS was originally founded to determine the cause of widespread die-offs of white-tailed deer.
Before the founding of SCWDS, little was known about diseases or sicknesses in wildlife. Sickness or death among wild animals spawned speculations, accusations, and wild myths. Not long its formation, SCWDS began to provide answers to many long-standing questions, and today it is be a multipurpose wildlife disease research and study organization.