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Talking turkey, in Madison and beyond

In the 1970s there were no turkeys in Wisconsin. Now they’re everywhere.

Turkeys at the UW-Madison Arboretum.png

There are approximately 350,000 wild turkeys in Wisconsin with plenty of them in Madison proper. | Photo by 608today

Next Thursday, dining room tables will be bedecked with a host of holiday cheer. Thanksgiving pies and stuffing, sweet potato casseroles, and fresh-baked dinner rolls will be piled high on famished family plates. Also — turkey.

More than 46 million turkeys will be eaten in the US next week. There aren’t quite that many around Madison, but they are abundant. So much so, that there are avid Facebook groups and Instagram feeds following the gobblers.

Here is a rafter of local turkey facts:

  • There are approximately 350,000 wild turkeys in Wisconsin.
  • Due to settlement, disease, and unregulated hunting, there were no turkeys in Wisconsin by the year 1881. They were reintroduced to the state in the 1970s.
  • One of the greatest wildlife management success stories in Wisconsin history, spring turkey harvests rank among the largest in the nation.
  • The sale of wild turkey stamps brings in over $750,000 annually for the healthy management of the state’s turkey population.

As for Madison’s urban gobblers, they’re resilient and flourishing.