The National Wild Turkey Federation is a dedicated wild turkey nonprofit, one that every turkey hunter who wants to ensure that turkeys are around for generations to come should be a part of.
It’s no secret that the once healthy turkey population has begun to decline. Turkey hunters across the country have seen the effects of the decline: fewer gobbles, smaller bag limits, and shorter seasons, to start.
NWTF wants to face the concerning numbers head on--the organization is working to discover not only the “why” of turkey population decline, but the “how” of how they can help. Jason Burckhalter, NWTF’s Chief Information Officer, says, “By answering these questions we can put boots on the ground and tackle the issue.”
But first, the questions have to be answered. Help the Yelp isn’t a conservation initiative like Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt. It’s a direct appeal to turkey hunters to save the population by uniting and working together to reverse the decline in numbers.
Pete Muller, Communications Director for NWTF, says, “Help the Yelp is focused on going back to the roots of helping these birds and identifying other problems and work through them based on research that has been going on. Also, through partnerships like Mossy Oak we’re putting more funding behind additional research projects so we can figure out the overall reason for the unhealthy pockets of the American turkey.”
He goes on to say, “This is something that we’re trying to educate all the turkey hunters that have taken for granted that there were a lot of birds out there for a while. The turkey population is something that constantly needs to be worked on, constantly researched, constantly managed if we’re going to continue to have sustainable turkey populations for them to hunt for generations to come.”
Managing the population and conserving the habitats doesn’t come without sufficient funding, though, and Help the Yelp serves as a call to action to turkey hunters to become a member of NWTF for only $35, with $25 of that coming back to you in a Bass Pro Shops gift card.
Mark Hatfield, NWTF’s National Director of Conservation Services, says, “At times, hunting roots or factions, we are sometimes are our worst enemies. We need all turkey hunters, all conservation minded individuals pulling in the same direction. That starts with a membership to NWTF. The more we can unify the voice we have the greater difference we can make. It’s paramount to conservation efforts.”
Right now only 10% of all turkey hunters are NWTF members—a discouraging statistic that Help the Yelp aims to bolster, resulting in a mass increase of dollars funding the work on wild turkeys.
The National Wild Turkey Federation has been working to conserve the wild turkey since 1973.
And some of the conservation efforts that will be funded through NWTF membership fees have been identified and are still in review.
Hatfield goes on to say, “We will be identifying research projects in a couple of weeks to begin funding. We are looking at hunter demographics, poult survival, gobbler mortality. There’s a gambit of things that are going to be critical for us to look at in a post restoration era. The restoration of wild turkeys was completed in the mid 2000s. What we are facing now is something new. Now we’re trying to make sure there’s no regression and make sure our population is stable and viable.”
Some of the initiatives funded by the National Wild Turkey Federation are:
Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative
Co-convened by the NWTF and the USDA Forest Service, the Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative’s goal is to increase the pace and scale of forest restoration in Colorado to reduce the risk of wildfire and to protect water sources and infrastructure, communities and recreational opportunities. In the heart of the NWTF’s America’s Western Wildlands focal region, it is a national pilot under the USDA's Shared Stewardship Strategy and includes a diverse community of 170 partners from 30 stakeholder from the public and private sector. Through this initiative, the NWTF is achieving its goals of reducing wildfire risk and improving water quality and abundance. Learn more at www.restoringtherockies.org.
America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative
(AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TX, VA)
Longleaf Restoration Initiative is a mirror of the NWTF’s America’s Southern Piney Woods focal region and represents a coalition of federal and state agencies, nonprofit organizations, forest industry, private landowners and other interests who have united in a single cause: to restore the iconic and ecologically important longleaf pine forest in the southeastern United States. Restoring longleaf pine has brought together diverse partners with the resources and skills needed for success. For more information visit
White Oak Initiative
(AL, AR, CT, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NH,
NJ, NY, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV)
The White Oak Initiative works to ensure the long-term sustainability of America’s white oak and the economic, social and conservation benefits derived from white oak dominated forests. This partnership spans multiple NWTF America’s Big Six focal regions, including America’s Southern Piney Woods, America’s Great Open Spaces, America’s Mid-South Rebirth, America’s Crossroads and America’s Colonial Forests. While white oak growing stock are currently sufficient to meet today’s demand, forest monitoring and long-term projections indicate problems in maintaining high-quality white oak regeneration in the future. White oak is critical to many wildlife species and to industries making forest products, such as furniture, flooring, cabinetry and barrels for wine and spirits. It also is important for recreational activities like hunting, and generates billions of dollars for local economies throughout the white oak region. For more information visit www.whiteoakinitiative.org.
Waterways for Wildlife Initiative
(CO, KS, MT, ND, NE, NM, OK, SD, TX, WY)
The NWTF is developing a landscape-scale initiative to address the management of riparian communities and the conservation of these vital ecosystems, including the precious water resources they provide. By establishing cooperative partnerships, reliable funding sources, and supporting the implementation of “on the ground” improvements, this initiative strives to assist landowners and public land management agencies in restoring and managing riparian communities throughout the NWTF’s America’s Great Open Spaces and westward into parts of America’s Western Wildlands. This initiative will build off of very successful NWTF riparian initiatives, like the Northern Plains Riparian Restoration Initiative and the Southern Great Plains Riparian Initiative. These two NWTF initiatives have included collaboration with more than 218 partners, conserved more than 81,055 acres and put more than $12.6 million on the ground. The Waterways for Wildlife Initiative will build on our past successes through established partnerships, as well as present new opportunities to engage new, non-traditional partners like the irrigated agricultural community, municipalities and others concerned about water, wildlife habitat and the conservation of these ribbons of life. Learn more by visiting here.
The conservation strides NWTF has made in its nearly 50-year history is astounding. They’ve been instrumental in the resurgence of the bird from 1.3 million to just under 7 million at its recent peak.
They’ve also been able to conserve or enhance more than 20 million acres, invest more than half of a billion dollars towards conservation, and work with the public to educate people on what turkey hunting is so that they can continue the hunting heritage that everyone so loves and enjoys.
By completing their new Help the Yelp campaign objectives, objectives like recruiting 250,000 new members, 200 small businesses to spread grassroots awareness, and 20 large businesses, NWTF can reach their goals of improved habitat management, increased health of the wild turkey population, and increased wild turkey research.
NWTF and Mossy Oak make their plea to the turkey hunter—become a member and help protect our beloved bird.