EDGEFIELD, S.C. - The National Wild Turkey Federation's (NWTF) Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative was implemented just over one year ago and it's already making a difference. The Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is an aggressive charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to combat some of the driving factors in the decline of wild turkey numbers, loss of habitat and the decrease in the number of hunters.
"Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. has re-energized our incredible volunteer base and it shows in the progress that has been made thus far," said Becky Humphries, NWTF executive vice president of conservation. "There is still a long road ahead in our efforts to ensure the future of our habitats and our wildlife but it is nice to know we are making great strides from the start."
The Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt goals are to raise $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential upland wildlife habitat, create at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting, shooting and outdoor enjoyment.
In their efforts to conserve and enhance 4 million acres of habitat, the NWTF has identified regions and corresponding focal landscapes in need of urgent attention. States have worked to create strategic plans to address the immediate needs in these areas.
Creating 1.5 million hunters is the second goal of the initiative. State agencies like Minnesota Department of Natural Resources partnered with the NWTF to successfully offer mentored hunts. Nearly 200 youth were accepted into the Minnesota DNR program and placed with a hunting mentor.
The NWTF has also offered several mentored hunts in Georgia. A hunt and learn weekend partnership with Savannah Wildlife Refuge was an incredible success that resulted in several other wildlife refuges exploring the option of offering similar programs.
The NWTF is well on its way to meeting the goal of opening access for hunting to 500,000 acres. More than 81,000 acres have already been opened for hunting use.
"Hunters are the biggest advocates for conservation in the form of donations or through funds generated by license sales. An increase in the number of hunters along with opportunity will lead to more funds for saving precious habitat," said Humphries.
The NWTF was founded in 1973 and is headquartered in Edgefield, S.C. According to many state and federal agencies, the restoration of the wild turkey is arguably the greatest conservation success story in North America's wildlife history.
To learn more about the NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative, visit www.nwtf.org.