MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says one thing to be thankful for this year is the restoration of the wild turkey population in the state.

Wild turkeys disappeared from Vermont in the mid-to-late 1800s because of habitat destruction from land clearing for farming, the department said in a statement on Monday. At that time, only a quarter of the state was covered by forest, officials said.

The wild turkeys in Vermont now originate from just 31 wild turkeys stocked in Rutland County in 1969 and 1970, the department said. State wildlife groups moved the birds north. Now Vermont has an estimated population of nearly 50,000.

The turkey restoration was funded by sales of hunting licenses and a federal tax on hunting equipment.

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