MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont's wild turkey population is the result of a successful wildlife restoration project, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department said.

Wild turkeys had disappeared from the state in the mid-to-late 1800s when land was cleared for farming, destroying habitat, the department said. At that time only a quarter of the state was covered by forest, officials said.

In 1969 and 1970, the department stocked 31 wild turkeys in Rutland County as the state's forest habitat could again support the birds, the department said. Wildlife biologists moved groups of the turkeys north. Now, the state has a population of nearly 50,000 wild turkeys.

“This is just one of many wildlife restoration success stories we can be thankful for in 2021,” the department said in a statement.

The restoration was paid for by the sale of hunting licenses and a federal tax on hunting equipment, the state said.

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