BALDWIN — The Department of Natural Resources released 15 turkeys Wednesday and 10 on Thursday in Lake County, east of Baldwin, as a part of its capture and release program to improve the local turkey habitat.

DNR wildlife biologist Pete Kailing of Big Rapids said the turkeys were captured southeast of Grand Rapids and brought up to Lake County.

They were released on state land.

“The goal would be to revitalize the local population,” Kailing said.

The Mio area has also been targeted with such a program in the past.

“We did Mio last year,” Kailing said. “These two areas had been the priorities. Now it’s Lake County’s turn.

The DNR has three different sites that were targeted for trapping and capturing birds to be brought to the Baldwin and Mio areas for release.

“If it all gets together we get a lot, if it doesn’t we get a few,” Kailing said. “It’s been a rough go to try to capture the birds this time of year. With rapidly changing weather populations, the deer come in with the turkeys, for example, at some sites. You can’t launch your nets when they’re together. That’s a problem.”

More releases are scheduled to come up later this month.

Jim Maturen of the Pere Marquette chapter of the NWTF was at the turkey release and issued a statement.

“During the past decade, we have watched as our wild turkey numbers have declined over the northern lower Peninsula,” Maturen said.

“Each and every year finds less and less turkeys. Many larger areas that used to contain large flocks now have none, even though habitat conditions have not changed. Because of our winter survival program and our many contacts, we can at least get a handle on what is occurring with our wild turkeys.”

Maturen outlined various meetings and discussions between turkey hunters, groups and DNR officials in recent years which resulted in discussion on capturing nuisance turkeys in southern Michigan and bringing them up north.

“In the end, it may not help to solve our declining turkey numbers but it certainly would be worth a try,” Maturen wrote in his statement.

“Hopefully this program will continue into the future. It may or may not work but the DNR must be applauded for the cooperation, coordination and effort put into this project.”