In 2018, multiple North Carolina airports began reporting Eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) presence and damage. Airports reported that wild turkeys were no longer responding to harassment techniques and would often return to airports after being dispersed.
In response to these reports, Wildlife Services in North Carolina began collaborating with Texas Parks and Wildlife, the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission and the National Wild Turkey Federation to translocate turkeys from North Carolina airports to Texas to support the restoration of wild turkeys in historic ranges. (See “Paying It Forward” in The Wildlife Professional, Nov/Dec 2019).
This year, Wildlife Services in North Carolina captured, sampled and banded 62 turkeys from North Carolina airports and shipped the captured turkeys to Texas where TPW biologists released them.
These efforts accounted for 64% of the total number of birds accepted by Texas from outside states for their restocking efforts.
Since the program’s inception in fiscal year 2019, Wildlife Services in North Carolina has sent 76 turkeys to Texas and mitigated threats to human health and safety at five separate North Carolina airports — three general aviation airports, one passenger airport and one military airport.
Wildlife Services in North Carolina works with almost 60 civil and military airports in the state, two-thirds of which are general aviation airfields, or those without scheduled passenger service. Although reported strikes have increased dramatically — up 169% — nationwide since 2000, reported damaging strikes overall have stabilized, actually dropping 8%, primarily for commercial aircraft in the airport environment.