We can be thankful for Vermont’s wild turkeys

VTF&W photo by John Hall
The Thanksgiving turkeys on our tables this holiday originated from native wild turkeys whose populations have been restored across much of North America thanks to scientific wildlife management by state fish and wildlife agencies.

One of our native wildlife species historically played an important role on Thanksgiving Day.   North America’s native wild turkeys were the ancestors of the Thanksgiving turkey on our dinner table. 

Originally found only in the wild, turkeys now exist as meat-producing domesticated derivatives — the broad breasted white, broad breasted bronze, white Holland, bourbon red, and a host of other breeds – all of them descended from our native wild turkey. 

More than 140,000 servings of Vermont wild turkeys are harvested each year – that’s 140,000 servings of free-ranging, wild and sustainably harvested protein. 

Wild turkeys exist throughout Vermont today, but that was not always the case.  Wild turkeys disappeared from Vermont in the mid-to-late 1800s due to habitat destruction when land was cleared for farming and only 25 percent of the state was covered by forest.

The wild turkeys we see in Vermont today originated from just 31 wild turkeys stocked in Southwestern Vermont by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department in 1969 and 1970.  Vermont’s forest habitat was once again capable of supporting turkeys.  State wildlife biologists moved groups of these birds northward, and today Vermont’s population of turkeys is estimated at close to 50,000.   

This is just one of many wildlife restoration success stories we can be thankful for in 2023.  Funding for Vermont’s wild turkey restoration was derived from the sale of hunting licenses and a federal tax on hunting equipment. 

Categories: Outdoors, Press Release

3 replies »

  1. Thank you Vt. Fish and Wildlife Dept. Just one more example of game management that has brought species to the point whwere we are at today. More turkeys, bear, deer, & moose than ever. Pargrine Falcons, and Bald Eagles populations restored, and coyotes galore, no thanks to anti-hunting and trapping groups.

  2. Education is a better tool for keeping balanced and harmonious flora and fauna in any place… education on the food chain, on pesticides and poisons, on methods of harvesting, on how humans impact the natural lives and longevity of flora and fauna… and of course, cultivating a caring attitude about where one lives.
    NO management is necessary where education and caring is in place.
    And NO management based on an algorithm is going to solve imbalances…only WE do that with each choice we make…
    We are all connected — what happens to the least of us happens to the greatest of us…

    Now…can we talk about the cougar and wolf populations in Vermont that COULD keep things in balance if they and their habitats were protected — or educated about???

    • Cougars and wolves can’t live in a state with no large parcels of uninhabited land! Plus Vermont doesn’t have large sustainable populations of prey animals . To say they should be introduced , shows a tremendous lack of knowledge about the biology of those animals !