Turkey populations were once decimated due to poaching and habitat destruction. In fact, during the period of the Great Depression, only 30,000 of them existed on the continent! However, thanks to successful conservation efforts by a variety of groups, the United States is now home to over seven million wild turkeys.
The turkey is a species that is deeply rooted in American tradition and symbolism, and one that faced an uncertain future in the 1900s. The successful reintroduction of the bird to Colorado, and the collaboration between partners including various sportsmen groups and state and federal governments, is emblematic of the importance and success of CPW’s conservation efforts.
CPW and its partners launched an aggressive reintroduction program in the 1980s and since then Colorado's turkey population has surged to more than 35,000. The abundant birds are now found in 53 of the state's 64 counties.
Colorado has two subspecies of wild turkeys: The native Merriam's, which are found in the foothills and mountain meadows west of I-25, and the Rio Grande, which were introduced to riparian corridors on the Eastern Plains. The reintroduction of wild turkeys in Colorado has proven so successful that CPW has increased hunting licenses to help manage turkey populations in areas where the birds have become overabundant.
Watch this cool video of a Rio Grande Wild Turkey!