EDGEFIELD, S.C. -(Ammoland.com)- A turkey trap-and-release effort originating in North Carolina is helping boost wild turkey populations in Texas.
The effort, a joint venture involving the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services and the National Wild Turkey Federation, began in December and will finish up this month, with an anticipated several dozen Eastern wild turkeys making their way from airstrips in eastern and central North Carolina to restoration sites in east Texas.
Biologists are trapping the wild turkeys at airports in Pitt, Columbus, Brunswick, Guilford, Beaufort, Stanly and Forsyth counties where they pose a risk to aircraft by being struck on runways. Ideally, turkeys can be harassed and chased off the property, but in some cases that is insufficient to reduce the risk and more drastic means must be considered.
APHIS, which is responsible for removing wildlife that may endanger airline operations, contacted staff with the Commission with a plan to remove the birds rather than kill them. The Commission issued the required permits and assisted APHIS staff with logistical support and trapping. NWTF volunteers also assisted with trapping efforts and the organization provided specialized boxes and other supplies so the turkeys could be safely transported from the trap sites to the release sites in Texas.
To capture the birds, APHIS staff use rocket nets — a type of animal trap used to catch a large number of live birds at once without harming them. On-site cameras monitor the birds' activities and give biologists crucial information prior to trapping.
So far, trapping efforts have yielded 25 turkeys, and biologists hope to capture several dozen more this month.
One hundred years ago, Texas turkeys, like those in North Carolina, nearly disappeared from the landscape due