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Wild Turkey Population on the Increase

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November 25, 2013

Despite the presence of cooked turkey as the centerpiece of many a Thanksgiving meal, the wild version of the very much alive animals are on the increase. (It should also be noted that domestic turkeys are the ones that are cooked and eaten.)

The National Wild Turkey Federation estimates that 7 million wild turkeys live in the U.S., down from 10 million before 1500 but certainly up from 1900, when many thought that the birds were soon to be extinct.

A reintroduction program began in the early part of the 20th Century and gained ground in the 1940s, when large numbers of birds were relocated to woodlands, far from human dwellings. As a result, turkeys now roam in many areas where they never have before.

Today, every state but Alaska has wild turkeys. That growth has caused a bit of grief for some parts of the population, as the wild birds have been known to forage for food in some people's farms and backyard gardens. Wild turkeys in some states have been found to be especially fond of blueberries and strawberries.

In other states, the expansion of the human population into previously turkey-run territory has created a conflict, with some wild turkeys refusing to respect the new human boundaries. Reports of turkeys harassing children or delivery people are not uncommon in some parts of the country.

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