GREAT FALLS, Mont.— Over the past five years, 690 Merriam’s wild turkeys have been relocated to suitable wild turkey habitat across Montana. According to National Wild Turkey Federation Regional Biologist Jared McJunkin, the birds are doing well.

“We think things will only get better from here,” said McJunkin. “What an exciting time to be a turkey hunter in Montana!”

This past winter, 156 Merriam’s were trapped and then released in areas across the state with suitable wild turkey habitat. One such area is the Bear Paw Mountains near Great Falls, Mont., where NWTF Montana State Chapter President Bodie Grundel says the excitement is palpable among outdoor enthusiasts.

“It’s great to be a part of a success story like this,” said Grundel. “There were no wild turkeys here five years ago, and now I’d estimate that we have approximately 450 just in this area alone. Almost every day, I hear from someone around town, whether it be a turkey hunter or a bird watcher, who is excited about seeing these beautiful Merriam’s here in Montana.”

Grundel also said he’s appreciative of the support by the NWTF’s hard-working volunteers, and was glad the Federation was able to assist Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MFWP) in this project.

Rick Northrup, game bird coordinator for MFWP, also praised the volunteers’ key role in this project’s success.

“Together, the NWTF and MFWP have brought a substantial increase in wild turkey hunting opportunities to Montana,” noted Northrup. “Teaming up with the NWTF has helped us in achieving our conservation goals, and vice versa.”