Wild -- or not -- about turkeys
More than a decade after they were reintroduced to the forests of Ontario, experts are still divided on whether the prolific bird is a boon or a menace, Tom Spears wrote...
This is from an Ottawa Citizen article in Monday's paper. I guess it is a blessed relief reading about nature, MNR policy, and our tax dollars at work.
Australia's floods, Chile's earthquake, deaths in airplanes, murder and suicide bombers seem all too common. Success stories are great to read.
Yet, Spears did not represent both viewpoints. Some would say he did not present the truth. In fact, Karen Bellamy, Manager at MNR, tells me this isn't true and that many supported the reintroduction, and the it was the eastern wild turkey that was reintroduced.
Having written about this before,
(about the reintroduction of turkeys into Ontario), I found that our American neighbours sent us a number of turkeys. The hunter's federations were the motivators, but reintroduction of extirpated species, cycle of life, All God's creatures, and all, seemed to be a good thing.
The article in The Citizen seemed a bit off to me. It suggested that the MNR didn't bring the 'right' species, i.e., the originals, a introduced a hybrid, and it has been ruining farmer's fields. I did some more research and found this:
([PDF]) Proceedings of the 9th National Wild Turkey Symposium
As this symposium stated:
- 24,000 in 1999
- 55,000 in 2004 with a 129% increase in population from an Eastern subspecies.
- 80,000 in 2010
One section, by Karen Bellamy (Manager, Species at Risk at Ministry of Natural Resources; MNR) reported at the 2005 Wild Turkey Symposium:
- within Ontario MNR has contributed to the growth of Ontario’s wild turkey population. In total, 4,400 birds.
- Wild turkey restoration efforts began in 1984, and by 1987 a total of 274 birds were transferred into Ontario from 6 U.S. states.
- Active trap and transfer were trapped and released at 275 sites in Ontario between 1984 and March 2004 (Malhiot, 2005).
- social, political, and economic (changes driven by growth and demographic changes in the human population).
- Biological challenges, climate change and introduced species, are directly linked to human activity and much less tractable than the issues the wildlife profession faced in the past (Jenkins 2003).
Primary management concerns were
- Weather, food availability, and habitat limitations.
- Nutritional value of winter diets is inversely related to snow depth, with ground diets dominated by acorns or corn of highest metabolizable energy. (Perkins)
With hunters only permitted to be taking 3 per year, the population has swollen.
"The Birds of Canada, Canada's authoritative bird encyclopedia, says the turkey was probably gone from Canada by 1902 because of loss of forest habitat."
And what is the purpose of turkeys, of it is not to balance the cycle of life? If the purpose was only for the hunters, then that is another issue. Here in SE Ontario, I have 7 acres of forest, and lots of the critters. The Citizen article states:
These non-native, introduced hybrids represent subspecies (especially those from the central and western United States) that naturally occupy open scrubby land. They are a good apicultural choice, but represent lousy, inappropriate and destructive conservation and species management.
Seeing as we have has 6, 15 and then a group of 28 visiting our feeders, perhaps they are surviving well here in our forest! Don't all poultry scratch the soil? The deer are much worse than the turkeys!
I sent the Citizen article liink to Karen Bellamy, and her response:
Research, further reading...
- Allison, R. M. 1976. The history of the wild turkey in Ontario.
- Canadian Field Naturalist 90:481–485. Malhiot, M. 2005. 2004 Ontario wild turkey status report. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.
- Marshall, I. B., and P. H. Schut. 1999. A national ecological framework for Canada
- ecostrat/intro.html . Accessed 11 May 2005.
- Nguyen, L. P. 2001. Feasibility of transplanting eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) on the Precambrian Shield in central Ontario. Thesis, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
- Nguyen, L. P., J. Hamr, and G. H. Parker. 2003. Survival and reproduction of wild turkey hens in central Ontario. Wilson Bulletin 115:131–139.