Wild Turkey in Everglades National Park

In the fall of 1999, Ecostudies Institute, Everglades National Park, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the National Wild Turkey Federation initiated a program to reintroduce turkeys to ENP. Twenty-nine Wild Turkeys (22 females; 7 males) were released in January 2000. A second release of 31 turkeys (20 females, 10 males) was conducted in January 2006. Ecostudies monitored the population using radio-telemetry, camera surveys, and personal observations until 2009.

Camera

The Florida Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo osceola) was extirpated from the Long Pine Key Region of Everglades National Park (ENP) in the early 1900s. Wild Turkey and six other upland species disappeared shortly after a dramatic reduction in area of the Atlantic rock ridge pinelands. As a popular game bird, hunting almost certainly contributed to the turkey’s disappearance. Historical records suggest that on several occasions efforts to reintroduce turkeys were made, but none were successful. The distance and lack of habitat between the closest source populations in Big Cypress apparently precluded dispersal into ENP, even t