Before you gobble your Thanksgiving bird, spare a moment to celebrate Vermont’s wild turkeys.
These plucky birds — ancestors of the ones most people buy and bake — are the local forests’ comeback kids, according to a bulletin issued Monday by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
Wild turkeys disappeared from Vermont in the mid- through late-1800s due to expanding farms and shrinking woodlands, the release states.
The wild turkeys that modern Vermonters sometimes spot at the edge of fields in meadows “originated from just 31 wild turkeys stocked in Rutland County” by the department in 1969 and 1970, the department states.
Wildlife biologists helped the birds recolonize former stomping grounds.
Restored forest habitat, protected and managed by scientists to benefit wild turkeys (as well as other species) now supports about 50,000 turkeys, according to state naturalists.
Hunters bring some of those birds home every year; plenty of folks swear by the wild bird’s rich-flavored meat.
Many more Vermonters sit down to a meal featuring what the wildlife department terms its “meat-producing, domesticated derivative.”
Feast, if you will, on a gravy-drenched turkey you bagged at a meat counter: a broad breasted white, a broad breasted bronze, a white Holland, a bourbon red, or any number of other breeds.
Just don’t forget the Meleagris gallopavo that beget them all.
And, adds the Fish and Wildlife Department, save a dollop of thanks for funding that brought the wild ones back to Vermont, with the help of funds from hunting licenses and a federal tax on hunting gear.
Contact Joel Banner Baird at 802-660-1843 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @VTgoingUp.
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