Wild Turkeys: A Conservation Success Story, Where We Are Now, and What We Can Do

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Show notes:

Wild turkeys are fascinating birds that are only found in North America. They are also a conservation success story – one which most people aren’t aware of because the turn-around was so successful. In this episode of the Backyard Ecology podcast, we talk with Dr. Bret Collier. Bret is a Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Louisiana State University who specializes in studying wild turkeys.

If you ask a room of wildlife biologists to name our nation’s greatest conservation success stories, you are most likely to hear wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and wood ducks come up frequently. It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time, not too long ago really, when wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and wood ducks had been extirpated from many areas and were steadily declining in population numbers. Losing them would have been a distinct possibility. But massive conservation efforts turned those declines around. Now all three of those species are so common throughout much of their range that the conservation success stories they represent have been mostly forgotten.

Bret and I discuss the wild turkey’s conservation success story because we both believe that it is a story worth telling and one that doesn’t need to be forgotten. We also talk about current turkey populations, because in the southeast we are seeing a decrease in turkey populations. There are hints that this might be starting to occur in other parts of the country too.

As Bret said during our conversation, “Wild turkey conservation at a national level rests on the private landowners.” This is because so much of our land is privately owned, especially in the eastern U.S. So, in addition to talking about wild turkey populations, Bret shares with us the types of habitat that turkeys need and helps us understand some of the things we can do to make our properties a little better for turkeys.


Episode image:

  • Male wild turkey
  • Photo credit: Alabama Extension, public domain

Backyard Ecology: Exploring Nature in Your Backyard
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at www.backyardecology.net.

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