The conservation success of an unsung holiday hero
Ontario is home to some of Canada's most interesting species. We have birds with
wingspans of more than two metres, butterfly migratory routes that cover more than
4,000 kilometres and rare plants that grow in only the harshest of ecosystems.
One species that you might has now become so common that we rarely think of, unless
it's on our dinner table, is the humble turkey.
The shining star of Thanksgiving spreads, this native North American gobbler wasn't
always in abundance. In the early 1900s, wild turkey had all but disappeared from
Ontario due to unregulated logging and hunting.
In March 1984, a turkey restoration project began across Ontario starting at a site
near what is now the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's)
property. The reintroduction involved the release of 27 wild turkeys from the U.S.
Originally initiated by Ontario hunters, this program has helped restore wild turkey
populations across southern Ontario. The reintroduction program was a partnership
between the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Ontario Federation
of Anglers and Hunters and the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The program was a success. Now wild turkeys can be seen (and more commonly heard)
throughout the fields and forests of southern Ontario, thanks to reintroduction
efforts undertaken at 275 locations in the province, including Norfolk County.
Today, turkeys continue to be a managed species across Ontario. The story of this
iconic Thanksgiving bird is one of partnership, balance and resiliency.
NCC recognizes the important role hunters can play in maintaining a healthy balance
in wildlife populations. Provincially regulated hunting with written permission
is allowed on many of NCC's lands in Norfolk County.