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Wildlife Restocking

Leg bands on Wild Turkey Turkey release Big Horn Sheep release

Sometimes biologists resort to restocking suitable habitat with certain species of wildlife to bolster or reestablish their populations. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has restocked deer, turkey, pronghorn antelope, and desert bighorn sheep.

1950's photo of deer release at Engling WMA

Deer and turkey were almost exterminated from Texas by the late 19th century. Public concern brought about a series of protective measures by the Texas Legislature near the turn of the century. Bag limits and other laws were established. The first hunting licenses were sold in Texas in 1909. In 1919, six game wardens were hired to patrol the entire state. Additional interest and protection by landowners, sportsmen and law enforcement personnel helped deer populations increase steadily during the 1930s and 1940s. A statewide deer trapping and restocking program was initiated in 1938. Since that time, more than 30,000 deer have been released in 160 Texas counties.

TX Fish and Game truck in the 1950's Biologist weighing wild turkey, 1950's 1950's biologist with Wild Turkey

TPWD has trapped over 30,000 Rio Grande turkey since the 1920’s and restocked them to suitable habitats throughout the state in an effort to restore the bird to its historic range. Additionally, TPWD has partnered with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and other state agencies to restore the eastern turkey to East Texas. These turkeys (7,200) were trapped in other states and released at 321 release sites in East Texas during the last 20 years.

TPWD staff capture Bighorn sheep for release preparing bighorn sheep for helicopter ride Releasing Desert Bighorn sheep

Texas has seven herds of free-ranging desert bighorn sheep, the result of restocking efforts begun in 1954 and continuing to the present time.

Learn more about the Desert Bighorn Sheep.