A new study funded by the
NWTF will determine the differences
between wild and domestic turkey DNA, information wildlife agencies need to
convict suspected poachers.
Wildlife law enforcement officers could soon have a new tool for enforcing
wild turkey hunting laws.
Dr. Karen Mock, associate professor at Utah State University, is studying the
genetic differences between wild and domestic turkeys and using the results to
develop tests game wardens can use to determine whether turkey products
possessed by suspected poachers come from wild or domestic birds. Such evidence
would help wildlife agencies convict poachers without having to catch them in
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) funded the study.
"Right now we don't have a test that can be taken into court to prove whether
a turkey is domestic or wild from a tissue sample," said Tom Hughes, NWTF
biologist over research projects. "We have confidence that tests resulting from
this study will be accepted by the courts as proof of wild turkey game law
The study will determine how to tell the difference between domestic and wild
turkeys by comparing DNA in tissue samples taken from the Rio Grande wild turkey
subspecies to two common domestic turkey lineages, the Spanish Black and the
Narragansett. Once consistent processes for telling wild and domestic turkey DNA
apart have been developed, these processes can be standardized for forensics
labs to use in wildlife court cases as evidence.