The Need for Management
By the early 1900s, the wild turkey population in North America had been reduced to an estimated 30,000 birds, and there were almost none in Michigan. Rampant poaching and the degradation of the wild turkey’s habitat were primarily responsible for their decline.
Careful management of the wild turkey’s habitat and strategic relocation efforts have led to wild turkey population increases in Michigan from 2,000 in 1960 to over 200,000 today. Currently, the population of wild turkeys has increased to the point where hunting is allowed – which through the sale of hunting licenses directly provides much-needed revenue to fund management efforts now and into the future.
The ambitious goal to repopulate Michigan with wild turkeys required the coordination of dedicated wildlife professionals, conservationists and volunteers along with a lot of hard work that included:
- Capturing wild turkeys from Iowa and Missouri and releasing them in suitable habitats throughout Michigan.
- Implementing private-land management initiatives that encouraged Michigan landowners to keep turkeys on their property by providing year-round food and cover.