THANKSGIVING WILD TURKEYS RELEASED NEAR COLUMBUS
Edgefield, S.C. — The National Wild Turkey Federation joined forces with the Ohio Division of Wildlife Thursday, Nov. 15 to host an educational Thanksgiving wild turkey release just northwest of Columbus.
The event demonstrated how wild turkeys were restored in North America. Large-scale wild turkey restoration began in Ohio in 1956 with the relocation of birds trapped in surrounding states. Today, populations are estimated at nearly 180,000 and wild turkeys are found in each of Ohio’s 88 counties. The wild turkeys that were released during the event will be a part of an ongoing wild turkey research project in Ohio.
“The wild turkey represents one of Ohio’s most successful wildlife management programs,” said David M. Graham, Chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. “Thanks to the cooperation between Ohio’s hunters, wildlife enthusiasts, the NWTF and the Division of Wildlife, our state now boasts a healthy turkey population in all 88 Ohio counties.”
The wild turkey release demonstrates how wildlife managers nationwide have successfully restored wild turkey populations and continue to keep them healthy through active management and research. In the 1930s, wild turkey numbers were at an all-time low of 30,000 throughout North America. Because of state wildlife agency restoration efforts, the wild turkey population was on the rebound. When the NWTF was founded in 1973, the organization accelerated those efforts through the purchase of trapping equipment and transfer boxes, and through the help of its volunteers.
Initial restoration efforts involved the release of pen-raised wild turkeys, but quickly proved fruitless because pen-raised birds did not have the necessary skills to survive in the wild. Thanks to the development of the cannon net, and later the rocket net, wildlife professionals began catching wild birds and moving them into suitable areas to start new populations.
In areas where they are abundant, wild turkeys are usually trapped via nets propelled or dropped over a feeding flock. Trapped birds are individually placed in specialized transport boxes, and then released in areas of suitable habitat with few or no wild turkeys. The NWTF works with wildlife agencies, coordinating the trap and transfer of wild turkeys.
Because of the tireless efforts of state and provincial wildlife management agencies, the NWTF and thousands of volunteers, more than 192,000 wild turkeys have been transferred since the 1970s to restore turkey populations across the country.
"When the NWTF was founded there were only an estimated 1.3 million wild turkeys," said NWTF CEO Rob Keck. "Thanks to the work of our nation's sportsmen, there are now more than 7 million wild turkeys throughout North America."
To learn more fun facts and information about wild turkeys and their habitat, click here.