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What You Should Know About Wild Turkeys

Terina Ria
Terina Ria
Posted on November 7
Wild turkey. (@utahdwr/Instagram)

Wild turkey. (@utahdwr/Instagram)

It’s November, aka turkey time — wild turkeys that is. They’re the largest of Utah’s game birds and sometimes you can see them wandering around Rose Park. Here’s (basically) everything you should know about them.

Fun Facts

  • Although the population has declined statewide, there are about 25,000-30,000 wild turkeys in Utah.
  • There are two subspecies in Utah: The Rio Grande and the Merriam’s.
  • You can spot the difference between the two by the color of the tips of their tail feathers. The Rios are buff or tan and the Merriam’s are white.
  • Male turkeys weigh 17 to 21 pounds and female turkeys about 8 to 10 pounds.
  • Males are called “Toms” and females are called “Hens.”
  • Females usually raise young on their own. Cue Reba McEntire’s “I’m a Survivor.”

Safety First

  • It’s best to never approach these birds.
  • If you do encounter an aggressive turkey, stay calm and wave a jacket or walking stick. (Related: Tips for taking on a mountain lion.)
  • Keep your dogs with you — turkeys tend to avoid dogs at all costs.

In the Wild (Turkeys)

Head to the Hardware Wildlife Education Center in Hyrum (about an hour north of SLC) for a glimpse of the wild turkeys. Their Turkey Tales exhibit is open Nov. 10-12 and Nov. 17-19 from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Bring the whole family for free activities and hourly story times.

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