A wild turkey makes a break for freedom when biologist Joe Christensen opens the box.
Division of Wildlife Resources personnel released 30 wild Merriam's turkeys north of Joes Valley Reservoir on Jan. 17. Although turkey populations are healthy across most of Utah, none were known to exist in the Joes Valley area prior to the release.
The DWR partnered with Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), the U.S. Forest Service and the Art Olsen family for the project.
The Olsen Ranch, where the birds were released, offers the birds plenty of food, and roosting and nesting resources. Merriam's turkeys are well adapted to life in mountainous environments. The population is expected to thrive.
For the next few months, the NWTF and DWR will supplement natural food resources with cracked corn. As the turkeys explore their new habitat, they will also find pine nuts, buds and acorns to feed on.
The birds are part of more than 100 turkeys that were captured in South Dakota and transported to Utah. Other release sites include Avintaquin Canyon, Yellowstone Canyon and Bitter Creek in northeastern Utah.