|This hen turkey is fitted with a radio transmitter which allows the DWR to track her movement.|
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation released 13 Rio Grande wild turkeys near Huntington at the DWR fish and game pond recently. About 60 Emery High School students participated in the release. Students were affiliated with FFA and were enrolled in agriculture and animal science classes at EHS.
"For the past seven years, Utah has been the number one wild turkey restoration state in the union," remarked Brett Johnson, NWTF Regional Field Supervisor. "In the past decade, the DWR and NWTF have brought nearly 7,000 birds into Utah from other states. Utah has come a long way from having virtually no turkeys to a current population ranging between 20,000 and 30,000 birds."
|Davie Stokes holds the turkey while its collar is attached.|
Jon Leonard, NWTF Utah State Chapter President indicated that the cost of releasing a single wild turkey from out-of-state runs around $188 per bird. This amount includes capture costs, transportation, veterinary expenses, interstate coordination and release efforts. In-state transplants like today's release costs about $25 a bird.
Two hens were outfitted with radio transmitters, which will allow biologists to monitor movements, nesting locations and possible flock migration. Marcy Curtis, President of Castle Country Gobblers, said that more than 200 wild turkeys were recently observed up Ephraim Canyon in Sanpete County. This was especially odd, since no wild birds had ever been released in that county. Some flocks apparently travel great distances from release locations. "This is so exciting," beamed Curtis. "Its makes me feel like a kid again." Curtis became addicted to wild turkeys during her high school years. "I love to involve students. When they get excited, they fire up a community, which pushes for more releases and release sites." Curtis urged EHS students to honor and respect private property, which provides some of the best wild turkey habitat to be found.
The Castle Country chapter of the NWTF hosted its annual fundraising banquet in Price at the Greenwell Inn. All proceeds go toward future transplant projects and youth and women outdoor programs. Browning Arms has manufactured a one-of-a-kind Citori 12-gauge shotgun for NWTF's Utah's statewide raffle.