The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) – one of America’s most successful and important conservation organizations since 1973 – reports that its national initiative, “Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.” will conclude in 2022 as an amazing springboard for future endeavors, including its newest “Help the Yelp” program.
Launched in 2012, Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. conserved and enhanced more that 4 million acres of wildlife habitat, recruited 1.5 million hunters and opened access to 500,000 acres of public hunting land.
Led by one of the most active super-enthusiast bodies in conservation, “The 10-year initiative rallied our membership, staff and partners to help deliver our mission on an unprecedented scale," said new NWTF Co-CEO Kurt Dyroff. "We faced many challenges over the last decade, but what we accomplished is a testament to our dedicated people who make the NWTF so special.”
Continental wild turkey restoration remains one of the most effective operations in the history of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Few species owe more to science-based game-keeping techniques and wise-use hunting.
Nevertheless, the incredible growth trajectory of the wild turkey has recently, officially, cooled across some landscapes, and their numbers are trending downwards in others. NWTF recently reported a 10-15% decline in wild turkey numbers since 2004, paralleling an “alarming” decrease in the number of people who hunt turkeys.
Two of NWTF’s latest scientific endeavors are aimed directly at population dynamics:
With funding provided by NWTF, Mississippi State University (MSU) and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) will soon begin utilizing new DNA-based lab techniques in the study of genetic materials, such as feathers and droppings, in an effort to create more efficient accuracies regarding wild turkey populations and accelerate best-practices for their administration.
"Hunters and managers want to know why there are more turkeys in some places than in others and what are the factors driving those differences," said Adam Butler, wild turkey program coordinator for MDWFP and NWTF technical committee representative for Mississippi. "We’re excited about this opportunity to harness new technologies to get at those questions.”
In Oklahoma, the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit have recently announced great progress with a new 54-month study of wild turkeys. By the end of March 2022, about 250 kits used to sample the genetics of turkeys had been distributed to a variety of associates including those with NWTF affiliations. Twenty-five wild turkeys had also been trapped and outfitted with electronic, backpack-style tracking transmitters.
The upshot of this five-year program promises a new bank of science regarding the population dynamics of the wild turkey, to include hardcore insight on how nesting successes affect populations.
Mossy Oak, in long-term support of NWTF since 1986, is incrementally backing the organization’s new Help the Yelp initiative, with goals to add 100,000 new members and 100 corporate partners. Mossy Oak encourages our friends and associates to join this great mission and Help the Yelp!