Now that’s an old turkey.
Wildlife officials in Pennsylvania recently discovered something they never thought they’d see: a 12-year-old wild turkey. Apparently, this bird has figured out a way to live four-times as long as the average hen.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission confirmed on Facebook that it discovered the elderly turkey during a recent research project. State officials said that the turkey is a bit of a mystery, as the average hen in the state only lives for about 1 to 3 years.
Wildlife Converstation Officer Chris Ivicic spoke with Mossy Oak, a local news outlet, about the bird. According to him, he first trapped the bird during a project back in 2012. The turkey was tagged and released back into the wild. At the time, it was determined that the bird was 1.5-years-old.
The bird wasn’t recaptured again until 2022, when a group of trappers who were working on a hen population project went out to collect specimens.
Wildlife officials in Pennsylvania caught a turkey with a tag on its leg this year that revealed that it had been previously tagged in 2012.
The team noticed that one of the birds had a band on its leg. When they checked the number, they realized that this was the same bird from 2012.
Tony Musselman, a technician working for the state’s turkey project, told the news outlet, “It was pure luck that we caught this bird. It was just an ordinary trapping. I noticed that she already had a leg band on her and it was pretty worn. I would have told you she was a 3- or 4-year-old hen. She looked healthy, she looked great.”
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The average hen lives for an average 1 to 3 years.
The elderly bird is apparently still healthy and active. In fact, the trappers placed a transmitter on her before they even realized how old she was. Transmitters are only placed on healthy birds.
While this bird isn’t the oldest hen ever discovered in the wild, it’s close. If this bird can make it to 15-years-old, it could become the oldest hen ever on record.