Turkeys moved into Santa Ritas
courtesy photo/Arizona Game and Fish Department, Aaron Miller, Arizona Game and Fish Department wildlife manager, releases one of eight rare Gould's turkeys into the Santa Rita Mountains last Wednesday. The turkeys were net-captured earlier today at Ramsey Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains and trucked to the top of Mount Hopkins in the Santa Ritas.

Special to The Explorer

Wild Gould's turkeys were released into the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson last Wednesday by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Game and Fish staff net-trapped eight turkeys at Ramsey Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains south of Sierra Vista, and transported them by truck for release along the upper reaches of Mount Hopkins Road in the Santa Ritas.

Since 2007, Game and Fish has introduced more than 100 Gould's turkeys into the Santa Rita Mountains, specifically Madera, Gardner and Casa Blanca canyons.

The Gould's turkey is the largest of five subspecies of turkey in the U.S. It thrives in the rocky, mountainous terrain of southern Arizona, New Mexico and northern Mexico. It's also the rarest wild turkey, with 600 to 800 birds in the wild, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation, a conservation and hunting organization.

Turkeys are sensitive to climate change, and populations in southern Arizona have been affected by previously low rainfalls as well by increased numbers of predators driven from their habitats by urbanization, according to Game and Fish. Their numbers have thus declined in the Santa Ritas over the years.

Current reintroduction is a cooperative effort by Game and Fish, the U.S. Forest Service, the Centro Ecologico de Sonora, the National Wild Turkey Federation and other agencies.

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