Turkey Distribution and Trends

In Alberta, the demand for hunting wild turkeys is very high, with 5,585 applicants pursuing 200 tags in 2022 (3.6% draw success awarded to only those with 12+ years priority), while an additional 18,736 hunters applied to boost their priority level. With 24,300+ hunters seeking a turkey tag, it has become a once-in-life-time opportunity for most hunters, and many will never be drawn at the current allocation rate.

Wild turkeys were first introduced into Alberta in 1962 when 21 wild turkeys from South Dakota were translocated to the Cypress Hills in southeastern Alberta. At the same time, three wild turkeys were sent to the Brooks Pheasant Hatchery for breeding purposes and future introductions. Since then, several translocations have established populations of varying size, scattered throughout southwestern Alberta.

In 2021, we initiated a citizen science approach to monitor wild turkeys with private landholders across their range in southwestern Alberta. We divided the anticipated range of wild turkey into five zones from south to north and contacted at least ten landholders from each. Direct sightings from landholders enabled us to identify the winter location of local populations in winter 2021 along with their associated habitat features (e.g., roosts, feeding sites). We contacted 118 landowners in 2021, with many reports that turkeys were once commonly sighted in previous years but were no longer present or remained with very low numbers. In 2022, we again gathered input from 30 landholders who observed turkeys in the previous year, and together they reported roughly 790 wild turkeys observed through winter across the five zones. We are using these annual landowner counts to establish an index and help us better understand how wild turkey populations vary over time. Our online volunteer summer brood survey had 23 replies with 376 wild turkeys sighted including 126 hens, 122 poults, 41 males, and 87 with sex unknown. Poult to hen ratios are an indication of breeding success and, with an adequate sample size, these ratios can help predict population trajectory.

At the time of this report, we are translocating wild turkeys from communities in the Columbia Valley of eastern British Columbia (Edgewater, Invermere, and Radium Hot Springs) and releasing them at select sites in southwestern Alberta north of Highway 3 to Turner Valley. We have moved 177 wild birds to date and expect this number to increase before the field season end this winter.

Plans are underway to translocate wild birds from cooperating jurisdictions for the next ten years as part of a long-term strategy to build up a sustainable wild turkey population within Alberta. Translocation efforts also include the capture and relocation of wild birds from within Alberta to jump start many dozens of local populations.


Alberta Environment and Protected Areas, Alberta Fish & Game Association, British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Calgary Fish & Game Association, District of Invermere, Lethbridge Fish & Game Association, Onoway Fish & Game Association, private landholders in southwestern Alberta, Regional District of East Kootenay, Sarcee Fish & Game Association, Spruce Grove Fish & Game Association, Wheatland Conservation and Wildlife Association, Village of Radium Hot Springs, Zone 1 – Southern Alberta Fish & Game Association

Annual Summaries

Title Year Category
Turkey Distribution and Trends 2020-2021 2
Turkey Distribution and Trends 2021-2022 2
Turkey Distribution And Trends 2022-2023 2