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Where Do Osceola Turkeys Stop and Easterns Begin?

IntergradeAre wild turkeys in the panhandle of Florida really Eastern wild turkeys? Aren’t some of them Osceola turkeys? — Gilbert Gibson of Atlanta, Ga.

“Excellent question, especially with hundreds of turkey fanatics descending on Florida this time of year. We put the question to Lovett Williams, the country’s leading turkey biologist, and the man who probably knows more about Florida turkeys than anyone. Here’s his response:

“Biologically, Florida panhandle turkeys are intergrades (genetic mixtures) between Eastern (silvestris) and Florida (osceola) turkeys. However, the National Wild Turkey Federation considers them Easterns for record-book purposes.

“The northern borders of Dixie, Gilchrest, Alachua, Bradford and Duval counties mark the line. There are no Easterns in the peninsula of Florida. Those turkeys are Osceolas. Likewise, there are no Osceolas in western Florida.”

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