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Wild turkey restored in Illinois    Send a link to a friend

Increased numbers, increased tourism income

[NOV. 27, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Ongoing conservation efforts by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources have restored the wild turkey population to virtually all of Illinois. The number of turkeys living in the wild in Illinois now tops 100,000 -- enough so that turkey hunting has become a source of tourist income.

"This is one of the greatest success stories in IDNR history," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold. "The wild turkey was almost extinct. It took trial and effort and tenacity to restore the turkey population. The fact that turkeys are so common today is a testament to the success of wildlife conservation efforts."

There were almost no turkeys living in the wild in Illinois in 1960. At that time, conservation efforts were undertaken to restore the bird population, which had been a fixture in the terrain when Pilgrims arrived in America.

Initial efforts to repopulate failed because those efforts had relied on turkeys raised in captivity. Domestic turkeys were not capable of surviving in the wild.

"By 1967, we knew that the secret was in releasing wild birds. We brought in 65 birds from three other states," said Paul Shelton, wildlife program manager for the Department of Natural Resources. "All of the tens of thousands of birds now in Illinois are descendents of those few dozen birds."

Wildlife biologists also discovered that the wild turkey could survive in varied terrain, not just the dense Shawnee National Forest of southern Illinois. Turkeys were first moved to west central and northwestern Illinois. They can now be found statewide.

"We found that turkeys do well in an environment that includes both forest and open fields," Shelton added. "Once we learned that, there was a large boom in the population. The birds are now common from Joliet to Galena to Cairo."

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Repopulation has been so successful that turkey hunting is now a source of revenue. A total of 96 counties were open to turkey hunting this past spring.

"Turkey hunting brings in tens of millions of dollars to the state of Illinois," said Brunsvold. "It's not just fees paid by hunters, but also the money spent on travel, lodging, clothing and other hunting supplies."

Statewide, during the 2004 spring wild turkey hunting season, 15,066 turkeys were harvested. The top five counties for turkey harvest for 2004 in the north zone include JoDaviess, with 696; Pike, 620; Adams, 502; Fulton, 437; and Macoupin, 401. The top five counties in the south zone for the 2004 spring season were Pope, with 352; Jefferson, 339; Marion, 312; Randolph, 304; and Union, 290.

The turkey is also popular among bird-watchers. The bird is most often spotted just after dawn or just before dusk.

Shelton notes those who want to observe the turkey in the wild should be prepared to be patient. "The turkey is known to be reclusive. Its eyesight in daylight is superior to humans. The turkey can turn its neck a full 360 degrees. Their sense of hearing is also acute. Their sense of smell is less sharp."

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources news release]

Life Sentence, No Parole

If we tried to invent the cruelest punishment for dogs, we probably couldn't come up with anything worse than "solitary confinement" on a chain or in a kennel.

Dogs are pack animals who crave the companionship of others.  Scratches behind the ears, games of fetch, or even just walks around the block mean the world to them.  Curling up at your feet while you watch TV is their idea of heaven.

Many dogs left to fend for themselves at the end of a chain fall prey to attacks by other animals or cruel people, and many others are injured or hanged or choke as a result of getting entangled or caught in their tether.

If you have a backyard dog, please, bring him or her inside.  They don't want much--just you.

A public service announcement from Lincoln Daily News and helpinganimals.com

 

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