Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 28

Weedville, noted the South-central division of the Pennsylvania Federation of
Sportsmen's Clubs "violently opposed"
the turkey farm. Their stance, he noted,
"shoots down the theory that game-farm
turkeys are being opposed by only the
Pennsylvania Wild Turkey Federation and
a small band of hunters."
At a cost of a quarter-million dollars
annually, Erich suggested, the Game
Commission shouldn't stock inferior
game-farm turkeys to "sweeten the pot"
for hunters. Trapping and transferring
wild birds was a far superior approach to
establishing "wild flocks," he noted.
The Board of Game Commissioners
already had begun to discuss phasing out
turkey farms.
And Wunz continued his education
efforts through Game News.
"Wildness," Wunz noted in an April
1978 article, "is the key to the turkey's
survival."
But biologists at the time estimated
it would take 10 years for turkeys to fill
in the final 5,000 square miles or so of
their unoccupied range, and opponents
of closing the turkey farm felt that was
too long a wait.
So the agency doubled the pace of
turkey trap-and-transfer work while correspondingly reducing production at the
turkey farm. And in October 1980, the
board voted to stop turkey production.
The farm's remaining stock would be held
until spring of 1981, then released, and the
facility would begin producing pheasants.
By 2001, Pennsylvania's wild turkey
population would peak at about 280,000.
In two more years, turkeys would repopulate all of the state's available turkey
habitat, largely through natural range
expansion, tweaked occasionally by limited trap-and-transfer work.
Today, there surely is no need for
28

game-farm turkeys. The resource is
widespread, managed by seasons and
bag limits and the availability of quality
habitat. Many out-of-state turkey hunters
come to the Commonwealth annually,
because it's one of the nation's premier
turkey-hunting destinations.
It's a tribute to the Game Commission's work in turkey conservation.
The turkey farm's creation and halfcentury existence were a product of
thinking that prevailed within the Game
Commission and hunting organizations in
wildlife conservation's early days, even
in some of its golden years, thinking that
came before the relationship between
wildlife and habitat was more thoroughly
understood, thinking that catered to the
wishes of a demanding hunting public.
But it also was thinking that came from
individuals who understood what it took
back then to sell hunting licenses, which
funded most conservation.
Although the turkey farm wasn't as
pivotal a step forward for Pennsylvania
as state game lands, or creating a gamewarden training school, it surely provided
reason for many hunters to buy a hunting
license and bolster wildlife conservation
in Pennsylvania.
Just like refuge keepers and vanilla
hunting seasons, the turkey farm's time
had come and gone. It's a common theme
in conservation, a field that continually incorporates science's best work to
increase its understanding of game and
wildlife, and their ecological dependencies.
That progression is what brought back
whitetails, and more recently black bears
and wild turkeys. And there's still room
for improvement as we work to conquer
the problems that afflict so many other
species. It's the future of wildlife conservation.



Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020

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

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Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Contents
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Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover3
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