Saturday, March 08, 2008

A good time to honor turkey conservation

© By Othmar Vohringer

It’s spring. The days get longer and warmer as thousands of hunters all over North America feverishly anticipate spring turkey hunting season. The wild turkey is one of North America’s most popular game species, second only to the whitetail deer. Small wonder. With the exception of Alaska, Hawaii and the northern provinces of Canada turkeys number in the millions.

Millions of hunters take it for granted to see these magnificent game birds everywhere they go but not so very long ago, about three generations, the wild turkey was an inch away from total extinction. There have been a few, at best feeble, attempts to restore the turkey. It was not until sometime mid-century when there came a breakthrough as biologists discovered the success of the trap-and-transfer methods. This made it possible to capture birds in locations and transfer them in other suitable habitat. Despite this new method the re-establishing of the wild turkey could be best described as agonizing slow.

In the early 1970’s a few hunters and biologists got together and founded the National Wild Turkey Federation. At the time of the founding the estimated turkey population numbered 1.3 million compared to an estimated 1.5 million turkey hunters the birds were outnumbered. Thanks to the hard work of many volunteers in corporation with state and provincial wildlife agencies, there are now more than 7 million turkeys and nearly 3 million turkey hunters.

The resurrection of the wild turkey population is one of the most successful conservation programs in conservation history. The success continues and keeps showing astounding results. Today we have turkeys roaming the wild, even in areas that traditionally never has been known to hold turkeys. It is no wonder that turkey hunting has become the fasted growing segment with the second highest participation of any type of hunting.

Since 1985 the National Wild Turkey Federation has spent more than 258 million dollars on upholding and promoting the hunting tradition and conserving more than 13.1 million acres of wildlife habitat. The land not only supports wild turkeys but a vast variety of wildlife and flora. The NWTF has today 550.000 members in 50 states, Canada and Mexico plus 14 foreign countries, supporting wildlife management and habitat conservation on public, private, and corporate lands.

So if you head out this spring in the pursuit of a big tom take a moment to remember who you have to be thankful to for the opportunity to go turkey hunting. Or still better yet join the National Wild Turkey Federation and become active in your state or province chapter in the conservation effort of one of the most majestic game birds in North America.
For more information on the National Wild Turkey Federation, check out the NWTF web site or call (800) THE-NWTF.

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Marc - Editor, NYBOWHUNTER.COM said...

As a member of the NWTF I couldn't agree with you more Othmar. I am thankful for the NWTF every time I lay eyes on a Turkey. I live in the city of White Plains about 30 minutes North of NYC and have hens and gobblers right in my very own backyard that visit on a daily basis.

Turkeys, very similar to deer, can adapt to almost any environment. I routinely see turkeys when I'm out deer hunting and one morning actually was convinced someone had a domesticated flock because the birds would not stop gobbling and this was around 11am in October. Turns out they were the real deal and I ran into the group of 6 Toms many times throughout the season including a few weeks ago when I was shed hunting. I am looking forward to turkey hunting this spring and have high hopes for a large piece of public land I will be hunting for the first time. Good luck this spring.

Othmar Vohringer said...

Thank you Marc for the additional information. I can see you suffer the wild turkey fever too.

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