Story and Photos by Erin Fairbank, Farm Bill Biologist – Montana
On a calm, cold and frosty morning in winter 2021, a batch of wild turkeys were released at their new home, Pheasants Forever’s Teton River Wildlife Area.
Boxes containing individual turkeys were lined out. The boxes shook with excitement. A few months earlier Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) came to the Golden Triangle PF Chapter President D.D. Funderburk with an idea to move some turkeys from an area that was starting have problems with high turkey numbers and relocate them to the Teton property.
Embracing the diversity of wildlife that calls Teton home, D.D. and I reached out to neighbors to see if everyone in the area would welcome giving the local turkey population a boost. When the community was on board, we told FWP we were in!
Reviews were completed to ensure the introduction would not negatively impact the local wildlife. Then Montana FWP implemented their plan to trap wild birds from an overpopulated area and relocate them to the Pheasants Forever Teton River Wildlife Area.
The goal was to trap and relocate 50 turkeys to the Teton property. On five separate days between January 27 and February 24, FWP biologists trapped and released a total of 51 turkeys: 15 toms, 10 hens, 15 juvenile females and 11 juvenile males or jakes. The project was in collaboration with the following partners: landowners, volunteers, the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and Great Falls Safari Club International (SCI).
The Teton River Wildlife Area habitat supports a variety of wildlife and is comprised of approximately 265 acres of riparian bottom, native upland and cropland that is being converted to upland game bird nesting habitat. It is open for public use year-round and is enrolled in Block Management for birds and deer during the hunting season.
This story originally appeared in the 2021 Fall Issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to be the first to read more great upland content like this, become a Pheasants Forever member today!