Wild Turkey

A Restored Native Species

Did You Know?

Turkeys can run as fast as 25 miles per hour

And they can fly as fast as 50 miles per hour.

Wild turkeys, native to North America, exist in five subspecies: Eastern, Osceoia, Rio Grande, Merriam's and Gould's.

An adult wild turkey has between 5,000 and 6,000 feathers covering its body, used for warmth, flight, feeling and showing off for the opposite sex.

According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, fewer than 30,000 wild turkeys could be found in the United States around the time of the Great Depression due to the amount of hunting and the loss of habitat. Since the 1950s, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has worked to restore the population.

“[One of the reasons the TWRA wanted to restore the wild turkey] is for the viewing opportunity of a native species that has been in the state for a long time,” says TWRA Wild Turkey Coordinator Chris Hunter.

“Sixty-three hundred birds were moved to the state of Tennessee. Now turkeys occur in all 95 counties. We now have populations that are established enough to allow for hunting.” Sometimes a gaggle of wild turkeys might meander through a backyard, giving the residents of the home an unusual chance to get a look at these birds. More often than not, however, wild turkeys are difficult to find. Hunter says to look for signs of scratching in the woods. The birds are not as vocal in the fall as they are in the spring because springtime is mating season.

“Right now a lot of the turkeys are moving into the forested areas,” explains Hunter. The oak trees that are dropping acorns lure the birds there as the nuts are a primary food source.

For more information, visit tn.gov/twra/turkeymain.html.

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