There was a time when seeing a turkey in Michigan was like seeing a Sasquatch but after being reintroduced the birds are thriving but how many are there?

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Why Did Wild Turkeys Disappear in Michigan?

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Hunting regulations have taken time to cover all animals, plus unregulated hunting and loss of habitat by the 1950's wild turkeys had disappeared in Michigan. You once had a better chance of seeing a Sasquatch than a wild turkey.

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Since there were no real hunting regulations before the 1900s, people settling in Michigan would shoot them to put food on their tables. By 1919 efforts had begun to re-establish the birds but it was many years later before an asserted statewide effort was put in place.

When Did Michigan Fully Re-introduce Wild Turkeys in Michigan?

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There were smaller efforts to wild turkeys being released between 1919 and the 1950s but it wasn't until the 50s that Michigan's wildlife biologists began releasing serious statewide numbers of the birds.

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In the fall of 1965, turkeys were once again allowed to be harvested in the state of Michigan when the first modern-day turkey hunting season began. Spring turkey hunting didn't begin until 1968. Only 50 birds were harvested that year and by 1977 400 birds were harvested.  This past spring nearly 35,000 birds were harvested so Michigan and wild turkeys have come a long way. Even the fall harvest of birds is now around 4,000.

How Many Wild Turkeys Are In Michigan?

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Turkeys are now found in every county in the Upper and Lower Peninsula's of Michigan.

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According to NWTF Michigan, wild turkey numbers in 2023 are around 200,000 and going strong across the state. Even with the number of black bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and foxes, Michigan has healthy flocks of turkeys statewide.

Boston Globe via Getty Images
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Turkey hunting is a great way to introduce new hunters to hunting and a fantastic way to create memories that will last a lifetime. Click here to learn more about turkey hunting in Michigan.

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