Chihuahuan Desert Wildlife: Gould’s Turkey

Gould’s Turkey

Meleagris gallopavo Mexicana

Status: Least Concern.

Size: On average males weigh 8 to 30 pounds with females weighing 8 to 12 pounds.

Habitat: Arid desert and mountain regions.

The Gould’s Turkey is the largest of the five subspecies of turkey. It is known only to the US Mexico border area of the southwestern corner of New Mexico and the southeastern corner of Arizona and the mountains of western Mexico. The population on the US side is a little over a thousand birds and their numbers are increasing to the point that some hunting is allowed.

Wild turkeys eat fruits, seeds, tubers, bulbs, and greens of locally common plants. They also eat animals such as snails, spiders, grasshoppers, millipedes, and salamanders.

Gould’s Turkeys were hunted to near extinction in the US during the early 1900s, but thanks to the Arizona Fish and Game Department they are now a conservation success story. A great place to look for them in the wild is at Chiricahua National Monument in southern Arizona about 4 hours west of El Paso.

Cover – Greg Schechter, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Top – Fort Huachuca Public, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Bottom – Rick LoBello

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