Hawai‘i’s Wild Turkeys

August 18, 2017, 4:15 PM HST
* Updated August 18, 2:18 PM
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Wild turkey crossing the road. Darde Gamayo photo.

Wild turkeys out standing in their field. Darde Gamayo photo.

WIld turkey limbo. Darde Gamayo photo.

Wild turkeys in Hawai‘i?

Some visitors to Hawai‘i Island might seem a little shocked to see wild turkeys roaming the pastures of Waimea or strutting through the grounds of their luxury hotels along the Kohala Coast.

Many residents will tell you that wild turkeys are everywhere—even strutting down the streets of subdivisions in all districts of the island.

They are not native to Hawai‘i; it is believed by some that they were introduced to the Big Island as far back as 1788.

In 1815, a domestic stock of free-range turkeys were brought into the islands from Chile.


Up until the 1940s, it was believed that the turkeys seen during that time were actually descendants of the 1815 stock.


In the early 1960s, wild Texas turkeys known as Rio Grande turkeys were released at Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Ranch. A total of 400 were released on all six major Hawaiian Islands.

Preferring the dry, higher elevations, the turkeys have settled in comfortably on the Big Island, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. However, they have not fared well on Maui, Kaua‘i and O‘ahu.

Having no predators but men and the mongooses, which eat their eggs, they thrive and have multiplied rapidly.


While the exact population of these turkeys may not be known, it is estimated that there are now as many as 18,000 turkeys in the state of Hawai‘i.

Turkey hunting on the Big Island is allowed and all information as well as rules and regulations on turkey hunting in Hawai‘i can be found online.

Turkey hunting enthusiasts come to Hawai‘i from all over to hunt these birds with the knowledge that they could be sitting between 6,000- to 10,000-foot elevations in the morning hunting these birds and then spend the afternoon sipping an umbrella drink and watching a beautiful from a sunset white sandy beach.

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