Conservation Wildlife Management

Someone Released 25 Turkeys on Public Land in Nevada. Officials Want to Find Out Who

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A truck at a gas station; a passenger of the truck inside the gas station.

The only evidence officials have to work with are two photos captured on a security camera at a nearby convenience store. Photographs courtesy of Nevada Department of Wildlife

Wildlife officials in Nevada are trying to get to the bottom of an illegal release of approximately 25 turkeys on the Key Pittman Wildlife Management Area earlier this month. They are now asking for the public’s help in identifying whoever was responsible for putting the birds there on April 9.

Staff members at the WMA contacted the Nevada Department of Wildlife after finding the group of the turkeys near the south end of Nesbitt Lake. Game wardens investigated and spoke with a witness who said they saw a white truck pulling a horse trailer in that direction that day, according to a press release from NDOW. Wardens also acquired security footage from a local convenience store that shows the same truck and trailer stopping for gas at 1 p.m. before heading in the direction of the WMA, which lies about 110 miles north of Las Vegas.

“Unfortunately, the video does not have a clear view of the license plate or the persons in question,” NDOW explained in the press release. “Game wardens believe the suspects are from Clark County as they arrived from the south and headed back the same way.”

A white truck and horse trailer at a gas station in Nevada.
State game wardens spoke with a witness who said they saw the same truck heading in the direction of the WMA around the same time the turkeys were spotted. Photograph courtesy of Nevada Department of Wildlife

The same press release included a photo of the truck and trailer in question, along with a security camera photo of one of the passengers, a middle-aged woman wearing a camo t-shirt.

“That’s why we’re asking for the public’s help,” NDOW public information officer Aaron Meier tells Outdoor Life. “All we’re going on right now is that an eyewitness saw that truck and trailer go by, and then later on that day is when the people who run the WMA realized there were a couple dozen turkeys in the area where that truck had just come from.”

Meier says game wardens went out to the WMA on April 10, and they were able to capture and remove all 25 turkeys from the area. NDOW biologists believe the birds were pen-raised, but the agency was unable to determine the exact subspecies of turkey.

“The best [a biologist] could say was that they were domestic turkeys with some wild turkey characteristics (feathers, etc.),” Meier says.

Read Next: Are People Illegally Sneaking Walleye into an Idaho Lake?

State fish and game agencies deal with these illegal releases on occasion, although they often come in the form of aquatic species introduced by anglers (also known as “bucket biologists”) looking to improve the fishing in their local waters. Under Nevada law, a first offense of illegal wildlife introduction is a misdemeanor that carries a fine between $25,000 and $250,000.

Although wild turkeys are not native to the Silver State, Nevada is now home to both the Merriam’s and Rio Grande subspecies. The state first introduced Merriam’s turkeys during the 1960s, and it’s been releasing Rio Grande birds into different parts of the state since the late 1980s, according to the Nevada Appeal.

This article was updated on April 23 to include comment from the Nevada Department of Wildlife.