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Sure, we at inewsource could ply you with maps and data about election results, vaccination rates or tax districts this holiday season, but instead we’ve decided to give you something really relevant for Thanksgiving.

So, before you chow down on that succulent drumstick tomorrow, guzzle this gravy: an old map of San Diego County’s wild turkey population. (It’s actually the most recent map we could find)

Wild turkeys were introduced into California way back in about 1877. Prehistoric specimens — relatives of the modern California turkey — have been found glued within the LaBrea Tar Pits. The population has exploded since, with a 2004 estimate putting the California turkey population at 242,000.

A section of a statewide map from the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife from 2003 shows established (crosshatch) and potentially occupied (red) ranges for wild turkeys in San Diego County. Click on the photo for a map of the entire state.

While some believe the species is a nuisance — causing car accidents, chasing children, pooping all over your yard — there isn’t much evidence that they’re a serious environmental problem.

“Sure, we have some concern about it,” said Scott Gardner, a senior environmental scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “But there isn’t smoking gun science that says turkeys are an invasive species that are causing a particular impact to any rare resources.”

The populations are well controlled by hunting, Gardner said, though the birds do end up taking refuge in places like Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, which can be problematic.

But, he added, “We don’t see them anywhere close to something like pigs, that are really having a big impact on the environment.”

So next Thanksgiving, load up on the bacon.

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Brad Racino is the assistant editor and senior investigative reporter at inewsource. He's a big fan of transparency, whistleblowers and government agencies forgetting to redact key information from FOIA requests. Brad received his master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri...