The eastern turkey population in Texas has faced declines over the years, but thanks to the efforts of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, more birds are on the way.

Eastern turkeys from Alabama, Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia will be transferred into East Texas as part of NWTF’s national initiative — Save the Habitat.  Save the Hunt.

“We have three sites, a Wildlife Management Area, private property and a mine site where we plan on releasing the birds,” said TPWD Upland Game Bird Specialist Jason Hardin, in a news release. “We plan to release the birds in northwest Anderson County and central Rusk County, near the town of Henderson.

“The birds were essentially wiped out by subsistence and market hunting along with extensive habitat loss in the later parts of the 19th century, but with the help of the NWTF, we have been able to bring the birds back all across the country. Although more than 50 counties in east Texas were stocked during the 1980s and 1990s only 28 counties are open for turkey hunting today. So we had to start looking at why we were not as successful in keeping the eastern wild turkey population flourishing as other states in its historic range.”

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The NWTF’s Texas Chapter is playing a significant role in footing the bill for transferring the birds.

“This restoration effort in Texas is unique,” said Tom Hughes, NWTF assistant vice president for conservation programs, in the release. “It’s an area where we helped with trap and transfer work in places years ago. Maybe there was a change in the habitat, you had less prescribed fire than was needed, too much rain or not enough. Whatever the reason, we are going back to the area and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is really committed to getting it right this time.”


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