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Wild turkeys released on Elk Ridge

During the past month, the Division of Wildlife Resources has released 96 wild turkeys on Elk Ridge in San Juan County.

Turkey
During the past month, the Division of Wildlife Resources has released 96 wild turkeys on Elk Ridge in San Juan County.

Photo courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation

The released birds were captured in South Dakota and Arizona. Wildlife Biologist Guy Wallace explained the reason for the transplant: "Turkey numbers on Elk Ridge declined drastically due to the severe winter conditions of 2009–2010. Snow levels were deep enough and persisted long enough that the birds perished, most likely, from starvation and predation."

This is not the first time that the Division has moved turkeys to Elk Ridge. "Turkey transplants to the Abajo Mountains date back to the 60's and 70's. Most turkeys had disappeared from the Abajos by the early 80s. More transplants occurred in the late 80's and early 90's," remarked Wallace.

The latter transplants resulted in a robust population. In the ensuing years, turkeys were moved from the Abajos to Elk Ridge, where they thrived until the winter of 2009–2010.

The transplanted birds went to Milk Ranch Point, South Cottonwood Canyon and Wooden Shoe Canyon.

"Under favorable conditions, the turkeys will increase and expand across Elk Ridge once again," said Wallace.

A healthy, expanding turkey population will provide increased recreational opportunity for sportsmen, photographers and other wildlife enthusiasts.

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