Thousands of wild turkeys make their home in the Beehive State

Posted at 10:08 PM, Nov 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-23 00:08:51-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A century or so ago, the number of wild turkeys across the United States had dwindled to dangerously low numbers. Today, wild turkey populations are rebounding. There are an estimated eight million across the country.

About 25,000 wild turkeys are thought to live in Utah.

"We had very few turkeys as recently as 50 years ago here in the state of Utah, and through concerted management efforts the turkey population has been essentially restored," said Jason Robinson, Upland Game Coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife resources.

 The turkeys' numbers are so strong that in some areas they've become a nuisance.

 FOX 13 shared some of the complaints expressed by Cache County residents in 2013 when hundreds of wild turkeys moved into the small towns of Mendon and Avon. 

"They leave their waste all over my driveway. It's gotten progressively worse. Five years ago there were 40 turkeys in the whole town and it was neat to see 'em and now we're completely overrun," said Jason Christensen.

For several years now, The Utah Department of Wildlife Resources has been capturing turkeys from areas where they are in abundance, and reintroducing them to habitats across the state. Much of the work is done in the winter.

Utah also has a turkey hunt which takes place in cycles. More than ten thousand permits were issued during 2016, though hunter success rates were less than 50%. 

In spite of the hunt, Utah's wild turkey population is still growing. And if you don't like to hunt, there are getting to be more opportunities to shoot them with a camera.

"If you get out in the spring, that's really the best time to view turkeys, because they're doing their strutting, their mating displays where they fan their tails and puff themselves up," said Robinson.

If you want to try your luck at spotting a wild turkey in Utah, some top spots for viewing include Zion National Park, the foothills of Cache Valley, and Butterfield Canyon.