On a recent February day after the winter storm, large cardboard boxes were popped open by giggling children who squealed as turkeys emerged and flapped their way to freedom, while biologists and parents smiled and watched with their own sense of delight.
Working with the National Wild Turkey Federation and private landowners, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is restocking wild turkeys in areas of the state where they’ve declined as part of an Eastern Wild Turkey Restoration Program. Eastern wild turkeys arrived at the Cooper Wildlife Management Area in February after long flights from Maine and North Carolina. The turkeys get general health check-ups and a drink of electrolytes to help them recover from their trip, then they were released at their new East Texas home.
Eastern wild turkeys
- TPWD staff wrapped up an eastern wild turkey Super Stocking effort in Titus County this winter. This restocking effort was initiated in 2020. In total, TPWD staff released 83 eastern wild turkeys originating from Maine, Missouri, North Carolina and West Virginia.
- TPWD is still releasing eastern wild turkeys at our Franklin County release site. To date, TPWD staff has released 48 eastern wild turkeys from Maine, Missouri and North Carolina toward our 80-bird goal. This restocking effort should wrap up this winter; if not, trapping and restocking will resume in 2022.
Rio Grande wild turkeys
- Over the past few years, TPWD has been experimenting with Rio Grande wild turkey restockings along the Trinity River watershed. The Trinity River marks the historic interchange between Rio Grades and Easterns.
- This winter, TPWD staff released 198 Rio Grande wild turkeys at 4 sites in Kaufman, Navarro and Freestone counties along the Trinity River.
- Since 2016, TPWD staff have released 671 Rio Grande wild turkeys at seven sites within the Trinity River watershed, south of D/FW to just east of the Richland Chambers Reservoir.