Photo Credit: Ted Beringer

In 1804 Lewis & Clark camped on the Kansas side of the Missouri River.

They witnessed an abundance of turkeys in Kansas. However turkey populations in Kansas declined and it is believed they were extirpated between 1900 and 1950. In the late 1950s, Rio Grande turkeys entered Kansas from a reintroduced population in Oklahoma. During the 1960s, the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks reintroduced Rio Grande turkeys into Kansas to supplement other reintroductions from Oklahoma and Texas.

According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, the Rio Grande subspecies dominates the western two-thirds of the state. Hybrid Rio Grande/Eastern birds are found in north central Kansas. The Eastern subspecies is common in eastern Kansas where numbers have grown tremendously in recent years.