I’m starting to feel more kindly toward the turkeys in the field since I’ve discovered they are tick eating machines. Each wild turkey eats up to 200 ticks per day. This evening, when I fed, there were eight adult turkeys in Freedom’s field. That’s 1,600 ticks per day, 11,2000 ticks per week and 48,000 ticks a month. I can’t wait until we have a field full of chicks eating their share. I don’t even mind that I see them eating the spilled grain by the horses’ feed buckets. Anything that eats ticks is fine by me.
Certainly, I’ve never seen more wild turkeys. They are everywhere — taking over people’s yards, stopping traffic on Route 2. The funny thing is that the turkey takeover of New England is fairly recent. According to Audobon, turkeys were thin on the ground 50 years ago and had been for more than a century. The current resurgence in population is due to a concerted conservation effort, releasing trapped turkeys in new territories.
Massachusetts captured 37 Wild Turkeys from New York’s Adirondacks in the 1970s and released them in the Berkshires. Vermont relocated 31 New York turkeys in the mid-1960s, and Connecticut, Maine, and New Hampshire participated in similar programs. By that time, the New England human population had migrated and condensed into cities, and forests and food had returned to much of the abandoned farmlands. Turkey predators like cougars and wolves had been extirpated, and the entire region created hunting restrictions to protect the birds. All the while, trapping and relocation continued between and within states—and soon New England’s Wild Turkeys, once considered extinct, were resurgent.https://www.audubon.org/news/how-wild-turkeys-took-over-new-england
Today, there are more than 25,000 wild turkeys in Massachusetts, 45,000 in Vermont, 40,000 in New Hampshire and 60,000 in Maine, all descendants of those relocated birds. With so many turkeys on the job, I can only wonder why there are still so many ticks left.