Wild Turkeys In Montana
By Toby Trigger
Remember the stories of Lewis and Clark Shooting wild turkeys for food as they travelled across Montana? Of course you don’t, there weren’t any turkeys living here then!
In fact there weren’t any until 1954. According to the MT FWP:
Montana falls outside the wild turkey’s ancestral range and it is not native to Montana. When the Montana Department of Fish and Game decided to introduce turkeys into Montana, it selected the Merriam’s as the best choice to achieve success. In 1954, department biologists introduced 13 Colorado birds into the Judith Mountains of central Montana. A second release was made in 1955 when 18 turkeys from Wyoming were released into the Long Pines area of southeastern Montana. Wyoming stock was also used in the Ashland area of southeastern Montana in 1956 and 1957 when 26 birds were released. This marked the last time stock from outside Montana was transplanted. Subsequent trapping and relocating distributed turkeys through numerous sites in Montana.
Fast forward to 2016. The spring season opens April 9th and runs through May 15th in most areas across the state. The wild turkey has become so prolific that they have become nuisances in many rural communities. So much so that wildlife professionals have had to live trap and transport entire flocks of birds to new areas in order to satisfy home owners who filed complaints.
Wild turkeys aren’t native in Montana but they offer a new hunting opportunity for those of us looking for something to hunt close to home in the spring.
If you’re one of the lucky hunters who bags a turkey this spring let us know!