Coming home from the grocery store this afternoon, I encountered a family of young turkeys by the side of the road.
These days, flocks of turkeys are not a rare sight in New York State. But that wasn't always the case.
I remember being in elementary school, second or third grade perhaps, and reading in Weekly Reader about how New York was planning to reintroduce turkeys across the state. Today, I googled information about this to see if I was remembering the story correctly. I was!
According to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, wild turkeys were abundant in New York State during the 1600's. Uncontrolled hunting and the intensive clearing of forests resulted in the demise of our native turkeys.
1844 was the date of the last recorded observation of native wild turkeys in New York State.
Not until a century later did wild turkeys move northward from Pennsylvania into southwestern New York. In 1957, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation began relocating birds to other areas of the state.
According to SUNY ESF, the return of the wild turkey to New York State is truly a success story in the field of wildlife conservation.
Wild turkey populations in New York have increased dramatically from an estimated 2,000 in 1959 to what DEC says is now 250,000 to 300,000 birds.
Today, the mama of these young turkeys was getting nervous by my stopped car. I could hear her calling to her brood and like good children everywhere, they hustled to get closer to mom.
These turkeys make me feel optimistic about the world. Maybe mankind can actually undo some of the damage we cause.
Hope and wild turkeys: both good things to have in large supply, along with a stack of Weekly Readers for eager young minds.
Happy back-to-school week, New York friends!