What Amy Alfieri may lack for deep knowledge of the wild turkey, she makes up with her enthusiasm.
Alfieri has been named the new turkey project leader for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. The 38-year-old wildlife biologist and resident of Addison County said in an interview that she was excited about the work in front of her.
“Probably the biggest challenge I face is just learning about the history of the project and familiarizing myself with wild turkey management, in general,” she said.
While Fish & Wildlife has for some time estimated the wild turkey population at about 50,000 birds, one former commissioner admitted that there is no way of really knowing how many turkeys roam the Green Mountain State. Alfieri said she would like to get a better handle on that population
“As far as turkeys go, I’d like to get a stronger sense of the actual population estimation,” she said. “That’s tricky. That’s part of the challenge.”
The new turkey project leader
works out of the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison.
“I was hired on to manage the Dead Creek refuge system, so I do a lot of waterfowl work in addition to the turkey project,” she said. She said she is open to learning all that she can about wild turkey management.
“I have no experience with wild turkeys,” she said. “A lot of my experience is with waterfowl.”
Born in Massachusetts, Alfieri moved to Vermont when she was 7 or 8 years old. She graduated with a degree in ornithology from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., and received a master of science degree from Antioch University in Keene, N.H.
An avid outdoors woman, Alfieri is particularly fond of one old-fashioned brand of hunting.
“One of my favorite seasons is muzzleloader. I really like hunting with black powder,” she said.
Alfieri has never taken to the woods as a turkey hunter but said, “I’m looking forward to trying it.”
The bottom line, though, is simply getting outdoors, Alfieri said.
“I like gardening. I like to be outside, doing anything, walking, hiking, fishing or hunting, birding. Fly fishing is on my bucket list.”
Maine opened its turkey season this spring with a bold, new regulation — all-day hunting. Every other state in New England, as well as in New York, calls for hunting to end at noon.
Alfieri was asked if any such regulation change could come about in Vermont.
“That is something that I’ll be looking into as I get more familiar with the project,” she said. “People have asked about it. I’ll have to do a little more research on it and talk to my colleagues around the (New England) region.”
Alfieri said she believes her work with wild turkeys in Vermont should prove to be rewarding.
“Wild turkeys are pretty unique-looking birds,” she said. “Their behavior is pretty striking. The fans and the gobbling. That’s very dramatic.”
As part of the learning experience, Alfieri said she was looking forward to attending a meeting of Northeastern scientists in New York on all upland birds, including the wild turkey, in September. As far as the current May 1-31 spring turkey hunt goes, Alfieri said turkey hunters have every reason to be optimistic.
“I want to encourage people to get out there and enjoy themselves and have a great hunt, even if they don’t harvest a turkey,” she said. Does Alfieri have any set goals for the future as the top turkey biologist in Vermont?
“I think Vermont turkey hunting is in a fantastic situation right now because our population is pretty robust,” she said. “One of my goals, and that’s shared by the department too, is to use the exemplary turkey hunting we have in Vermont to recruit new hunters.”