Turkey troubles plague Tucumcari ranchers

Freedom New Mexico: Thomas Garcia This group of turkeys is located on Daniel Garcia’s ranch north of Tucumcari. In early March the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish captured and relocated 75 turkeys from this location.

By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico

When hunting them failed to curb population growth, two area ranchers took their turkey troubles to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

“This has been going on for quite a few years,” said Daniel Garcia, a Tucumcari rancher. “Three years ago there was a flock of 300 turkeys running loose around here.”

Garcia said game and fish experts removed 75 wild turkeys from his and a neighbor’s property earlier this month March.

On several occasions, he said, the turkeys were eating the winter wheat seed almost as fast he could plant what’s usually a money crop.

“I am going to be working the fields real soon,” Garcia said. “Those birds still left out here will be out there eating the seed again.”

Garcia tried to cull the flock by participating in the NMDGF’s Open Gate program.

The program leases private property for public hunting and fishing, according to a state Department of Game and Fish release. Participants receive an annual payment per acre based on available hunting and or fishing opportunities, with additional incentives offered for wildlife habitat enhancements, according to the release.

“The program helps a little,” said Garcia, laughing, “but the hunter can only shoot one turkey. They need to let them shoot a few more.”

A game and fish spokesman confirmed Garcia’s account of turkey troubles. Spokesman Andy Gray also said he also received a complaint about the turkey’s roosting activities causing damage to Andrew and Sally Herrea’s property.

The department decided to set turkey traps, he said.

“The turkeys were trapped and moved to the Rio Grande Valley south of Albuquerque,” Gray said.

The turkeys will join existing flocks in their new home San Marcial, according to a Game and Fish release.