turkeys

Chances are the turkey you’ll gobble this week was not shot in the wild. But here’s the thing: It could have been, thanks to decades of conservation efforts.

Nationwide, the wild turkey has made a remarkable comeback after its numbers plummeted over much of the last century. In Louisiana, major progress has also occurred, though the state official overseeing wild turkey management says there’s still more work to do.

For those with the opportunity, feasting on a wild bird for Thanksgiving will offer quite a different experience from the store-bought turkeys that the vast majority of the country will slide into the oven early Thursday. The oversized factory-farmed birds often cannot even fly or mate naturally because of how they’ve been bred. Wild turkeys, on the other hand, can run 18 mph on foot and fly 50 mph, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For John Kanter of the National Wildlife Federation, wild birds come with a real taste, not to mention a connection to the natural world, unlike the comparative blandness of the industrially farmed variety. His Thanksgiving dinner in New Hampshire will include a wild turkey he hunted himself.

Read more on the return of the wild turkey to Louisiana from our news partner The Advocate.

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