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Ohio wild turkeys are doing just fine
Reintroduced in southern Ohio in 1956, the big game bird has spread around the state.

Mark Urycki
Wild tom turkeys having a spat over hens in Virginia Kendall Park in March.
Courtesy of urycki
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Not that long ago you would be hard pressed to see a turkey in the wild Ohio.  They were hunted out of existence by 1900. But wild turkeys are making a comeback. 

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources tried and failed to reintroduce wild turkeys by using farm-raised birds. But Summit County Metro Parks naturalist Pat Rydquist tells us they then used some wild birds in 1956 to great success.

Rydquist talking turkey

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Now at least 300,000 of the birds range through all parts of the state -- many in groups of a tom and his harem, or  as families in their first year.

Some of them have even shown up on people’s porches.

“It’s not that they’ve lost their fear [of humans] they’ve just adapted to being backyard birds.”   

The big black birds have sensitive feet that detect nuts, berries and worms. They nest on the ground, which makes their eggs prey for raccoons, and the young birds are hunted by foxes and coyotes. And though they don’t fly much,  but can hit 50 mph in the air.   

The bow-hunting season on wild turkeys ends Friday.

Rydquist  says the wild turkey hunting season for guns is in the spring, which is also their mating season.


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