35 Gould Turkeys Released in Pinaleno Mountains

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The Arizona Game and Fish Department and National Wild Turkey Federation teamed up recently to release 35 rare Gould’s turkeys into the Pinaleno Mountains near Fort Grant in southern Arizona.

Some Gould’s were also released into the Chiricahua and Huachuca mountains to augment existing populations and provide additional genetic diversity.

“We are trying to re-establish Gould’s turkeys in Arizona, especially in the mountain ranges of southern Arizona. These most recent releases were to bolster previous transplanted populations as well as establishing a new one. It’s a step-by-step process that has been so successful that for the past two years we have offered a couple of Gould’s turkey tags,” says Brian Wakeling, a Game and Fish biologist who has been working on the project for more than a decade.

Arizona is the first state in the nation to offer regulated hunting opportunities for Gould’s turkeys.

The recent release was possible due to a successful effort in Sonora, Mexico, in early March to capture 50 birds. The turkeys were held in quarantine in Arizona for a month before being released.

Gould’s turkeys were once found throughout southern Arizona. Gould’s were an important food source for those who settled and worked in the rugged lands of southern Arizona. Between the Civil War and World War I, miners working in the area harvested Gould’s for their meals. By the time Arizona had legal hunting seasons in 1929, Gould’s turkeys had already disappeared from the scene. Gould’s now occupy only a few remote mountain ranges in Arizona.