How Restoring the Wild Turkey Population Has Evolved

Wild Turkeys in East Texas
The number of wild turkeys in East Texas has slowly dwindled over the past several decades,

The number of wild turkeys in East Texas has slowly dwindled over the past several decades, due to a variety of reasons. But thankfully, that’s changing.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the East Texas chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) have been working hand-in-hand to boost the population of wild turkeys throughout the region. Most recently, they’ve been using what’s commonly called a “super stocking model,” which focuses on stocking 80+ wild turkeys at a single release site.

“The stocking consists of 20 males and 60 females, and all efforts are made to stock an equal portion of juvenile and adult birds. We’ve found better survival with juvenile birds. That provides us with brood stock into the future. We see a higher nesting rate and better nest success and poult survival with adult birds, which provides us with early recruitment into the newly established population,” said Jason Hardin, upland game bird specialist for TWPD.

According to Jason, it’s vital to assess the nesting habitat available for hens before they’re released into East Texas. “The key to sustainability is to evaluate the habitat to ensure it’s suitable before stocking birds. Our goal is to stock large tracks of suitable habitat to ensure successful establishment. We focus on nesting and brood rearing cover, as well as overall useable space.”

The NWTF adds, “If we can improve and maintain nesting and brood-rearing habitat across the landscape, it will significantly increase the carrying capacity, and in turn, yield more sustainable wild turkey populations. Sound management practices include controlling invasive plants and providing food sources year round with well-managed food plots and forest openings. All of these practices are vital for sustaining wild turkeys, as well as many other game and non-game upland species.”

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