Turkeys on the Move

Randall Kroll, a TPWD wildlife biologist, releasing wild eastern turkey. Image: Houston Chronicle

Randall Kroll, a TPWD wildlife biologist, releasing wild eastern turkey. Image: Houston Chronicle

This is Passport

East Texas once had abundant wild turkey populations. Then, around the turn of the 20th century over harvesting by European settlers nearly wiped them out.

There were no regulations to stop them from harvesting those animals and no law enforcement out there to enforce the few regulations that we did have.

With new regulations in place, turkey restoration got underway. Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist, Jason Hardin, says decades of restocking Eastern Wild Turkey has been successful for some East Texas counties.

The early efforts began with wild trapped Eastern turkeys in 1979. Dr. Roel Lopez coined the phrase ‘super stocking’. He said if we put large numbers of birds on the ground—up to 70 to 80 birds—that even under the worst case scenario, you’d have a really good opportunity for success as long as you’re focusing on quality habitat.

Thirty-one turkeys from Iowa, recently released in the Angelina National Forest, brought the total number to 80 birds. Outfitted with GPS transmitters, researchers plan to track them to determine their preferred habitat.

Essentially, we’re just going to be looking at the movement behavior. We’ll start doing vegetation sampling at each nest site. And then, that will go into this first years’ worth of data, and then we’ll come back and do it again next year.

Since 1979, more than 7,500 Eastern Turkeys have been released into 56 counties in East Texas on wildlife management areas, private lands and national forests.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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