Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 25

the continent's largest game bird. Its presence made hunting in Penn's Woods more
rewarding, more exciting, helping to build
interest in hunting and finance the Game
Commission's work.

TURKEYS SPREAD

Pennsylvania's core southcentralcounty wild turkey population grew from
1940 to about 1954, with turkeys increasing their range from about 2 million acres
to more than 13 million acres. Turkeys
began taking hold in McKean, Potter, Elk,
Cameron, Clearfield and Centre counties,
agency biologist Harvey Roberts and Bob
L. Snyder reported in the August 1953
issue of Pennsylvania Game News.
The increase was thought to have come

In the 1950s, birds hatched and raised at the
Game Commission's turkey farm might be
placed in a "hardening pen," like this one on
State Game Lands 221 in Monroe County, to
better acclimate them to forest conditions.
But even with these efforts, farm turkeys
lacked many of the characteristics their wild
cousins relied upon to survive and flourish.

MAY 2020	

from the "stocking of large numbers of
game-farm turkeys," the article observed.
While that conclusion validated the
turkey-farm concept, there was no doubt
Pennsylvania's landscape was becoming
friendlier to wild turkeys, as well.
"Unquestionably, natural movements
of native turkeys from the southcentral
across unbroken forests of northcentral
Pennsylvania also played a significant part
in establishing turkeys in these forests that
had finally matured from the vast brushlands created by logging and subsequent
fires," the biologists wrote.
As time wore on, turkeys dispersing
into areas where habitat was improving
and providing more food would play the
bigger role in their expansion. But much
still was to be learned about turkeys.
That wild turkeys were dispersing into
and augmenting populations in the northern-hardwood and transitional forests of
Pennsylvania's northern tier surprised
biologists, who thought the birds were
better suited to the mountainous mixedoak forests in the state's heartland.
But as forests reached maturity and
bore more mast elsewhere, turkeys began
to appear within them, particularly in the
Appalachians and along the Allegheny
Front.
And with turkeys thriving in more
areas, the first statewide fall turkey seasons since before the Great Depression
were held annually from 1954 through
1958. The thinking was that natural
reproduction and the turkey farm would
replenish what hunters took.
Today we know it didn't.
Then, when Pennsylvania's southcentral turkey population began to weaken,
the immediate answer was to flood their
range with farm-raised birds.
"The obvious remedy - mass releases
of pen-raised birds that supposedly had
25



Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020

Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 2
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Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 64
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover4
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