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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Monday, March 17, 2014

As forest succession and woodland maturity continues to take place in the northeast, birds like the Wild Turkey which seem to produce their largest population size in a habitat matrix of 60% woods and 40% field start to shrink in size..............Pennsylvania's Forests are up to about 85% pole and saw timber, which biologists feel is a key criteria in the state's Wild Turkey numbers dropping from 275,000 to 200,000 over the past 17 years..........Cold and wet Spring seasons also have been limiting recruitment of baby birds..............Seems to me that based on 60,000 Turkeys roaming Pennsylvania in the 1960's, the bird just might be finding it's most comfortable carrying capacity after a robust reintroduction over the past century

  1. Wild Turkeys Prevalent Again in Pennsylvania After Nearly VanishiThe bird had almost vanished from Pennsylvania 100 years ago until the state Game Commission took control.
  2. These days, sightings of Meleagris gallopavo are practically everyday occurrences in and around western Pennsylvania.

    But that certainly wouldn't have been the case for our great-grandparents.

    The wild turkey at one point almost suffered a fate similar to that of the passenger pigeon, the once-common North American bird that was hunted to extinction by the early 20th century. Fortunately, turkeys have made a substantial comeback, thanks in no small part to efforts by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

    Here is a timetable of the wild turkey's history in Pennsylvania, adapted from "A Look Back" by Joe Kosack, wildlife education specialist for the agency.

    • Pre-1683 – The wild turkey's range covers most of Pennsylvania and much of the eastern United States. Along with passenger pigeons, they are a relatively dependable, tasty food source for Native Americans.
    • 1683 – William Penn mentions hunting turkey in a letter to the Earl of Sunderland, a reference that signals the bird's decline with the coming of European settlers, who are unrelenting in their forays afield for game.
    • Circa 1780 – Benjamin Franklin proposes the turkey as the United States' national symbol, but the bald eagle ultimately assumes the role.
    • Early 1800s – John Audubon observes that turkeys are noticeably in trouble: "They are becoming less numerous in every portion of the United States, even in those parts where they were very abundant 30 years ago."
    • 1888 – Ornithologist B. H. Warren writes in his book The Birds of Pennsylvania, "This noble game bird, although rapidly becoming extirpated (exterminated), is still found in small numbers in the wooded, thinly populated and uncultivated districts of this Commonwealth."
    • 1900 – It is presumed that only a few thousand wild turkeys remain in the state. Not even tracks are easy to find.
    • 1913 – Gov. John K. Tener signs legislation closing the statewide turkey hunting season in 1914 and 1915. Another closure follows in 1926.
    • 1929 – Game Commissioner Ross Leffler announces the agency will establish the world's first wild turkey propagation farm. The following year, the Game Commission purchases 938 acres of contiguous farm and forested land in Lack Township, Juniata County.
    • 1930s – The Game Commission begins to target land acquisitions that are beneficial to wild turkeys.
    • 1945 – The turkey propagation farm is moved to Lycoming County.
    • 1954 – Pennsylvania holds its first statewide wild turkey season in decades.
    • Late 1950s – The Game Commission begins to trap and transfer wild turkeys as a way to accelerate range expansion into areas where they have not yet re-established themselves.
    • 1968 – The Game Commission estimates the state has a minimum fall population of 60,000 turkeys and overwintering flock of 30,000. It occupies about 13,000 of the state's 25,000 square miles.
    • 1980 – The success of Pennsylvania's wild turkey trap-and-transfer program spells the end for the agency's turkey farm, which stops propagation in October.
    • 1987 – Trap-and-transfer work concludes, paving the way for the self-sustaining wild turkey populations that now occupy most suitable habitat in the state.
    • 2000 – The wild turkey population is estimated at more than 400,000 birds, a far cry from the few thousand estimated to be found in the state a century before.


Habitat initiative meant to

 boost turkeys in Pennsylvania

By Bob Frye

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 3:48 p.m.
The new normal is something biologists are trying to get a
handle on when it
 comes to wild turkey populations.
Take the situation in Pennsylvania. In the late 1990s, the
 state was home to
about 275,000 birds, said Mary Jo Casalena, turkey
biologist for the
Pennsylvania Game Commission. In 2013, it had fewer
 than 200,000.
Some of that decline was to be expected, she said, as
 it coincided with the
 end of efforts to trap turkeys in areas of high
abundance and transfer them
to places with no or few birds.
But numbers here and elsewhere have declined
 more than some might have
 predicted, she said.
“We're all trying to figure out what is the new
 sustainable population,”
Casalena said.
Two factors might be coming into play.
Summer sightings of birds, meant to get a handle
 on how many young birds
are being born and surviving, have been down,
 Casalena said. That's the
result of bad weather at the wrong time.
“If there's a cold, wet spring, basically poult
 survival is diminished. That's
 what's been occurring,” she said.
It's a trend across the Northeast, she said.
At the same time, habitat continues to change,
she said. The ideal for turkeys
is 60 percent woods and 40 percent shrub and
agricultural or open land,
 Casalena said.
That's disappearing, though. In 1989,
 Pennsylvania's forests were 15 percent
seedling/sapling cover, 31 percent pole timber
 and 54 percent saw timber, or
 mature woods. In 2012, it was 10 percent
 seedling/sapling cover, 23 percent
 pole timber and 66 percent saw timber.
The result is that predators can be more
 efficient in lower-quality turkey
 habitat, she said.
The National Wild Turkey Federation
 nationally is trying to address the
 habitat issue. It recently partnered with
 Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants
Forever and Quail Forever to expand its
 “Save the Habitat, Save the
 Hunt” program.
Its goal is to “raise $1.2 billion to conserve
 and enhance more than four
million acres of essential upland wildlife
 habitat, create at least 1.5 million
new hunters, and open access to 500,000
 new acres for hunting,
 shooting and outdoor enjoyment.”
Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total
 Media. Reach him at or via Twitter



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