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Demise of populations

3/15/2010

As the fledgling nation began to
grow, the wild turkey populations
quickly began to disappear. Wild
turkeys were an important source of
food for the pioneers and were hunted
year- round without the protection
of game laws (regulated hunting).

In 1626 Plymouth Colony
passed the first conservation law, limiting
the cutting and sale of colonial
lumber. Vast virgin forests were
being cleared for agriculture and to
provide safety borders for the pioneer
villages from potential attack by
Native Americans.

With the turkey's
habitat fast dwindling and changing,
and under the relentless pressure
from market hunters to feed the
growing number of colonists (4 million
by 1790), the wild turkey started
vanishing from much of its original
range. Exceptions were some isolated
and inaccessible areas, mostly in
the southeastern United States.

In 1706 the hunting season on deer was
limited on New York's Long Island
because continued hunting had
almost eliminated them. Could
turkeys have been far behind?

As the settlers tamed the wilderness,
cleared the woodlands and
pushed westward, fewer wild
turkeys were left behind.
Connecticut had lost its wild turkeys
by 1813. Vermont held out until 1842
and other states followed. By 1920,
the wild turkey was lost from 18 of
the original 39 states and Ontario,
Canada, in its supposed ancestral
range.

The bird-----The species-----Post-Colonial-----Demise-----Restoration-----Pitfall-----Success