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Turkey origins

Even though the turkey on your table this weekend is probably going to be one of a domesticated variety, did you know that wild turkeys are in fact native to North America?

WIld Turkeys. Photo courtasy of the USFWS

Turkeys (or rather, their ancestors) were originally kept and domesticated over 2000 years ago by Mesoamerican indigenous peoples in Mexico and the southeastern United States. They were introduced to and subsequently became popular in early modern Europe when Spanish colonizers brought them back in the 1500s. Turkeys have been farmed in Europe ever since.

Due to their popularity in North America and Europe over the centuries, wild turkeys were almost extinct by the early 1900s. Subsequent reintroduction efforts eventually expanded the Wild Turkey range into much of the continental US and Western Canada; scattered flocks of turkeys can be found in the Okanagan around Oliver and Vernon!


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