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Gould’s turkeys thrive, allowing further range and distribution
By Doug Burt, public information officer,
Arizona Game and Fish Department
The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the National Wild Turkey Federation, along with sportsmen and private citizens, successfully captured and relocated 50 Gould’s wild turkeys from the Huachuca Mountains in early March. The captured birds were relocated to the Santa Rita and Catalina Mountains to help supplement existing populations and continue to expand the range of this unique but once eradicated wild turkey subspecies. The Gould’s turkey is common in Mexico, but only Arizona and New Mexico support populations in the United States.
Six mountain ranges throughout southeastern Arizona now support populations of the Gould’s turkey: the Chiricahua, Pinaleno, Galiuro, Santa Rita, Catalina, and Huachuca Mountains. All of these mountain ranges are part of the Sky Islands. This 70,000-square-mile region extends from southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and the northwestern part of Mexico. This region encompasses one of the most diverse ecosystems in North America.
The Gould’s reintroduction project began as a joint international effort with Mexico, where the first populations of Gould’s subspecies came from to restore Arizona’s historic populations during the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s.
Today, Gould’s populations in the Huachucas are significant and capable of sustaining further range expansion from our own populations. This translocation marks the fourth time that in-state populations have been used to continue the repopulation effort, indicating that the reintroduced Gould’s turkeys to southern Arizona are healthy and adapting well.
Translocation programs are designed to increase diversity of wildlife populations throughout the state and beyond. Turkeys nationwide have expanded from a historic low of less than 100,000 to over 7.4 million birds today. Programs are possible by funding from license sales, concerned sportsmen groups, special auction tags and other concerned conservationists.
To watch an exciting online video of Merriam’s turkeys being captured, click here.
To hear the sound of wild turkey gobbles, click here.