The Wild Turkey Program includes management, restoration, and population monitoring and research of the wild turkey in Louisiana. In order to meet public demands for this resource, Wildlife Division biologists offer technical assistance to improve habitat on public and private lands for the benefit of the wild turkey. In addition, monies for various projects are made available through LDWF's Wild Turkey Stamp Program and the Louisiana State Chapter of The National Wild Turkey Federation's Super Fund Program. Two population monitoring surveys are conducted to develop population indices and to track population trends of wild turkeys. The Program biologist represents LDWF on several technical committees that are involved in monitoring and formulating regional and national programs that can impact on the wild turkey.
Prior to 1880, the wild turkey population in Louisiana was estimated to be as high as one million birds. However, by the turn of the century, the state's turkey population started a precipitous decline. Exploitation of our virgin forests, subsistence hunting, market hunting, and unregulated sport hunting played roles in the declining wild turkey population in the state. By 1946, Louisiana's turkey population was estimated to be only 1,463 turkeys. Beginning in 1962, a restoration program that consisted of trapping and releasing wild captured birds into suitable habitat was initiated. Since that time, the state's wild turkey population has grown to an estimated 80,000 birds.