Wild turkeys released in Anderson and Rusk County in hopes to repopulate

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 6:20pm

The East Texas wild turkey population has been disappearing since 1930. There have been prior efforts attempting to increase the population, but now, there is a new "super-stocking" strategy that should bring the birds back.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the National Wild Turkey Federation, have teamed up to import Eastern Wild turkeys from Alabama, Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The team is releasing 80 birds to three locations in Anderson and Rusk County.

KETK spoke with Jason Hardin, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Specialist, who said, "We've been trying to restore the Eastern Wild turkeys since the 1930's with game fish and orchard commission later parks and wildlife, but Eastern Wild turkeys can be difficult to catch".  These turkeys disappeared for a number of reasons, Hardin shared, " We lost the majority of our Eastern Wild turkeys to subsistence hunting, market hunting, and later on to some habitat destruction".

This "super-stocking" program is the best for the species, but is also the last resort. Hardin said, " A success would be a growing population. We're going to release those birds, and  we'd like to see in the coming years that population double, triple, and leave the area where we're stocking them".  Texas Park's and Wildlife believes this will help the birds settle into their natural historic range.

It will take time for the turkeys to reach a large enough population to hunt. According to Hardin, this is possible when the turkeys reach a 20 percent mortality rate on an annual basis. The turkeys are being released this week.

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