Nov 22, 2010 8:14 PM by Elaine Sheridan
Turkeys aren't just plentiful on the Thanksgiving menu; they are also plenty of them in the wild these days.
According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife there are more wild turkeys living in Colorado than at any time before.
The DOW began working on strategies to increase the turkey population in the early 1980s. Since then, turkeys have been released, or colonized on their own, into most areas, living in 53 of the state's 63 counties. The turkey program ranks among the most successful species conservation efforts in the agency's history.
"Right now we have more wild turkeys in more places in Colorado than ever occurred here historically," said Ed Gorman, small game manager for the Division of Wildlife. "The success of turkeys in Colorado is primarily due to their adaptability and high reproductive capability."
Turkeys were plentiful in the North America at the time the Pilgrims landed, but over-harvest and habitat loss nearly wiped out America's wild turkey population by the early 1900s. Today, wild turkeys are once again abundant across the nation due to modern turkey management programs like the DOW's.
"Wild turkeys can be found in areas where they did not occur as recently as five years ago, said Gorman. "This has created new hunting opportunities for sportsmen."
Colorado is home to two subspecies of wild turkey: the native Merriam's and the Rio Grande, which was introduced to the state in 1980. The Merriam's wild turkey is primarily found in open meadows and in ponderosa, oak brush and pinion juniper stands in mountainous areas. The Rio Grande species tend to live in agricultural lands in the eastern portion of the state.