Disease Assessment in Wild Turkeys in Ontario

"Wild turkey and juveniles" by D. Gordon E. Robertson - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wild_turkey_and_juveniles.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Wild_turkey_and_juveniles.jpgSince being reintroduced in 1984, the number of wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) living in and harvested from Ontario has increased. Despite this, little is known about the health status of these birds, including the prevalence of various infectious diseases that may lead to subclinical (showing few or no symptoms) or clinical infections (those with obvious symptoms).

Amanda MacDonald is a PhD student at the University of Guelph who will be studying wild turkeys in the province. As part of Amanda’s PhD research she will perform health assessments of wild turkeys in Ontario over the next several years. Of particular interest is testing for the presence of lymphoproliferative disease, caused by lymphoproliferative disease virus (LPDV, an avian retrovirus) in wild turkeys. Although this virus is prevalent among wild turkeys in the eastern U.S., its occurrence in Canada is has not yet been documented. LPVD, although often subclinical, can lead to the development of tumors, and birds infected with the virus often have concurrent infections (Thomas & Brown, 2013). Additional pathogens that will be assessed include avian pox, avian influenza viruses, Salmonella and E.coli.

Samples will come from turkeys harvested during the spring and fall hunts and as well as birds that have died naturally or by other means (such as those found dead due to vehicular collision). If you are interested in more information or submitting carcasses, please contact Amanda MacDonald at amacdo21@uoguelph.ca or see the following information sheet and submission form:

Wild turkey information sheet 2015

Wild turkey sample submission form 2015

A broad and diverse range of people and groups stand to benefit from this information, including wildlife biologists, hunters, turkey producers and farmers, and the general public. The study will establish baseline data that can be used in monitoring, conservation and management strategies to help maintain a healthy and sustainable wild turkey population in Ontario.


This research is supported by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, University of Guelph, and CWHC.


Authors: Amanda M. MacDonald, PhD Student; Nicole Nemeth, Assistant Professor. Department of Pathobiology, University of Guelph

Submitted by CWHC Ontario/Nunavut

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3 Responses

  1. Brian honey says:

    I just read Steve galea s. Piece in OOD . I hope to bag a turkey this spring and would be willing to participate in your study. Typically I remove the Breast and leg meat and throw away the rest.

    Let me know if I can help. Cheers

  2. john l. sullivan says:

    will help.let me know how.

    • CWHC says:

      Hi John,

      I will pass your information to Amanda MacDonald, the student heading up the study. You can also email her at amacdo21@uoguelph.ca for more information on how to get involved.

      Thanks for your interest!
      Erin, CWHC National Office

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