SALEM - Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking that successful fall turkey hunters return the crops from their birds to aid in a research project.

Crops are the thin, transparent sacks at the base of the turkey's neck.

Oregon State University, ODFW and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will use the crops to determine the food habits of turkeys. Other research will look at the turkeys' ability to disperse seeds. The project should help improve turkey management programs in both states and shed light on the role turkeys play in Northwest ecosystems, said ODFW officials.

To assist with the research project, successful hunters are asked to remove the turkey's crop, place it in a zippered freezer bag. With a permanent marker, hunters are asked to write on the bag: their name, home address, date, time and location the bird was shot, and sex of bird.

Crops can be dropped off at any ODFW district or field office (hatcheries excluded) during business hours, or request a postage pre-paid envelope by emailing turkey.project@oregonstate.edu or calling 503-947-6324.

Crop collection began during the 2010 spring turkey season. So far, 225 turkey crops have been collected from Oregon and Washington.

"This is a good number, but we are hoping to get about 360 crops to meet sample size needs," said Dave Budeau, ODFW upland bird coordinator. "We would really welcome the submission of additional crops this year."

General fall turkey season started Friday, Oct. 15, and continues through Dec. 31 in most of western Oregon. Controlled (limited-entry) seasons in northeast Oregon and the White River Unit began Oct. 9.

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