Murie Audubon General Meeting and Program on March 14th, 2024


Last month, I presented a history (including Wild Turkeys) of a few select species of birds that are found in Natrona County, Wyoming. Brandon Werner, a Wildlife Biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Casper will present our program to bring us up to date about Wild Turkeys in Wyoming. Brandon will also tell us about efforts to trap and relocate turkeys here in Casper to more appropriate habitat. The history of wild turkeys in Wyoming dates back to 1935 when the Wyoming Game and Fish Department traded sage grouse with New Mexico for 15 Merriam’s turkeys, nine hens, and six toms. The birds were released on a ranch on Cottonwood Creek in Platte County in the spring of 1935, and were reported to lure some of the ranch’s domestic turkeys with them into the Laramie Mountains. By 1947, the wild turkey population was estimated to number over 1,000. Other reintroduction attempts across the state weren’t very successful, until birds were sowed into the fertile habitat of the Black Hills in 1951-52. Thirty-three Platte County turkeys, along with 15 more New Mexico transplants, found new roosts near Redwater Creek in the northwest Black Hills. They probably combined forces with some transplants that strayed over from South Dakota releases, and the introduction served as the foundation for Wyoming’s most recognized turkey hunt area. In 1955, hunters began harvesting the wild turkeys. The ?rst report of Wild Turkeys on the Casper Christmas Bird Count was in 1988, when 25 birds were tallied. Turkeys were reported periodically in subsequent years until 1999, when they began to be reported each year. In 2006, 194 turkeys were counted, and each year since then they have been plentiful (288 this year). Turkeys have done well enough that they are very common within the city limits of Casper. So common, in fact, that in August 2023 it became illegal to feed turkeys in Casper to try to manage the turkey population, and mitigate the negative effects caused by its growth. It will be interesting to see how the turkey population may respond to the ordinance against feeding them. To learn more about Wild Turkeys, come to the Murie Audubon free talk on March 14, 2024 at 7 p.m., at the Izaak Walton Clubhouse, at 4205 Fort Caspar Road.
Bruce Walgren