History of the American Wild Turkey Conservation Field Notes with Steven Rinella

The wild turkey is a true American original it's a bird that's native to only North America and Central America. They were first discovered by Europeans in Mexico in the early 1500's. The ancestor of the bird that will be the guest of honor at millions of tables this Thanksgiving was feeding people in Spain by 1520. in 1607 the domesticated birds arrived back here in the United States and were raised to feed the colonies. If turkey was indeed served at the first Thanksgiving there's some debate about whether that bird would have been a domesticated bird from Europe that has made its way back to the U.S., or if it was an Eastern wild turkey which were common in the woods and fields of Massachusetts What we do know is that by the late 1800's, this grand game bird had been completely wiped out of all of New England as well as New York, Ontario, Ohio Indiana Delaware and New Jersey By the 1930's the wild turkey once abundant throughout much of the U.S. could only be found in rugged portions of Appalachia in inaccessible southern swamps and other extremely remote plots of land Some estimates put the continental population at less than thirty thousand birds a victim of market hunting, subsistence hunting and widespread habitat destruction Then, in 1951 a South Carolina wildlife biologist named Duffy Holbrook captured a single wild turkey head and that became a milestone moment in one of the greatest conservation success stories this nation has ever seen today there are more than seven million wild turkeys in the U.S. ranging across our woodlands in river bottoms and at a time during that recovery only a handful of states had enough turkeys to afford a hunting season but now you can hunt turkeys and forty nine out of fifty States plus in Canada in Mexico now all Americans have the opportunity to pursue one of the wildest game birds Everyone can experience the thrill of watching a goblin full strut and the disappointment of having their Thanksgiving dinner stay just out of shotgun range The sporting community must protect and preserve habitat if we want to keep populations of wild turkeys and other species at stable huntable numbers We have to remember that every time a hunter buys a gun or a bolt of box of shells A portion of that money goes to support your State wildlife agency to manage the land and protect our natural resources the national wild turkey federation raises money to match with these funds and contribute to conserving habitat for turkeys and other species of wildlife Hunters can help even more by joining organizations such as the national wild turkey federation and the Theodore Roosevelt conservation partnership by getting active with these groups we can help ensure that we can continue to have huntable populations of wild game also so we can continue to have land upon which the hunt them If you want to find out more about the history of wild turkeys and wild turkey restoration projects that are taking place today pay a visit to the website of the national wild turkey federation

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