Weekly Wonder: Just how many turkeys are in Massachusetts?

By K. Sophie Will
BU News Service

BOSTON – According to the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Massachusetts is home to approximately a quarter of a million wild turkeys. However, none of them are from New England, but transplants from New York.

Before the colonial era, wild turkeys were abundant in the area. Yet, after hunting and the destruction of their habitats, turkeys died off quickly with the last known native bird killed in 1851.

Native turkeys didn’t make a comeback in Massachusetts until the 1970’s, when MassWildlife biologists took 37 turkeys from New York and released them into the Berkshires, where the population spread and grew to the large population it is today.

To learn more about living with turkeys in Massachusetts, the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife has published a guide here, as well as how to prevent conflicts with turkeys.

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