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Proposal to introduce turkeys in the Owens Valley for sport hunting

In 1997 local hunters persuaded a few members of the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to propose the introduction of turkeys to the Owens Valley for sport hunting. In collaboration with the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society, CNPS voiced its objections to DFG and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (owner of the land where introductions were proposed to occur). As of November, 2000, no turkeys have been legally introduced.

In spring, 2000, the subject of turkey introductions made it to the agenda of the Mono County Collaborative Planning Team.  The scheduled presentation was delayed, however, and finally removed from the agenda.  Any further developments will be posted here.   Below is an excerpt from one of the documents the Bristlecone Chapter developed for the "No More Turkeys!!" campaign in 1997-1998.


  1. On principle.   Native plants and animals are the products of at least 3.5 billion years of evolution.  The relationships they have developed to allow them to survive in the Owens Valley should be a source of wonder and treated with respect.  They should not be manipulated without compelling reason. The convenience of a small and ever-diminishing number of hunters is not a compelling reason.
  2. Introduction of exotic species is an inherently risky proposition.  The literature of biology is filled with examples of introductions which have caused devastation to native plants and animals.   There is no good reason to subject 450 square miles of the Owens Valley to such risks.
  3. The area considered potential turkey habitat already suffers impacts from a variety of causes: surface water diversions and groundwater pumping, human recreational activities, domestic livestock grazing, and invasion by exotic weeds.  To intentionally add more stress to this already-stressed system is irresponsible.
  4. In other parts of California, introduced turkeys consume members of the genus Calochortus (mariposa lily).   One of the most endangered plants in the Owens Valley is Calochortus excavatus (Alkalai mariposa lily).  Without any data to the contrary we must assume introduced turkeys would pose an immediate threat to this Owens Valley endemic flower.
  5. The area of the proposed turkey introduction has already been identified as habitat for several threatened native species of birds. Habitat for threatened native birds should not be sacrificed for non-native turkeys.
  6. It is an unconscionable waste of money to introduce exotic species when there are so many native species -- including such game animals as the sage grouse and Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep -- whose existence is already jeopardized by human activities.  The California Department should support native species rather than introducing exotics which will compete with them.
  7. There are too many turkeys here already — everyone who reads this must know at least two or three!!