Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. The wild turkey is a bottomland forest bird that was once found through most of eastern United States into southern Ontario and across the southwest well into Mexico. Lewis and Clark encountered it far up the Missouri, but it was absent or rare in most western states. As forests disappeared and human populations grew, the combination of habitat destruction and uncontrolled hunting decimated turkey populations. By the mid-1800s, they were all but gone from New England. By the early 1900s, they remained common only in the southeastern swamp forests. With a strong conservation movement, re-growth of forests, and regulated hunting during the twentieth century, wild turkeys were widely introduced. Today, they occur in the wild in every state in the continental United States except Alaska.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.