Minnesota Releases Wild Turkeys in Martin County
As part of an on-going effort to reintroduce wild turkeys to southwest Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released 10 female wild turkeys in the East Chain Lake corridor east of Fairmont on January 18 and an additional seven female wild turkeys and two juvenile male wild turkeys on January 26.
According to Rob Baden, DNR assistant area wildlife manager at Windom, the turkeys were released on land owned by Merlin Christensen, just north of the East Chain Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Baden said additional adult male wild turkeys will be released at the same site within the next couple of weeks, depending on trapping success in southeast Minnesota where these birds are being captured.
Wild turkeys were released near Murphy Lake, north of Fairmont, in 2002 and have done very well, Baden noted, although they have not yet expanded to areas south of Fairmont. The habitat surrounding the release site consists primarily of oak, black cottonwood, and other hardwood trees along the shorelines of the series of lakes that run south into Iowa.
Baden said the 120-acre East Chain WMA is located in the heart of the release area, and other private CRP holdings dot the surrounding landscape. In case of deep snow, winter corn food plots have been established near the release site to provide the birds with a stable winter food source.
The hope is that the release will result in the establishment of a viable population of wild turkeys that would be able to disperse into other areas of Martin County, such as the nearby Fairmont chain of lakes. One factor that can limit the success of a wild turkey release is the presence of domestic, or game farm turkeys near the area of reintroduction. The DNR encourages people not to release domestic or game farm turkeys into the wild as these pen-raised birds carry and can transmit diseases to the wild birds.
"In addition, domestic turkeys may interbreed with wild birds, thus reducing the natural hardiness and wariness of the wild strain," Baden pointed out. "Domestic turkeys also have a way of becoming quite a nuisance by feeding in gardens, defecating on buildings, vehicles, and lawns, and by roosting on or near buildings. It is never a good idea to release pen-raised animals in to the wild."
For additional information or to report the sightings of wild turkeys seen near East Chain WMA, please contact the Windom Area Office at (507) 831-2900 extension 229.