More than 220 NWTF volunteers, board and staff members from Mexico, the United States, Canada and even South Africa attended the inaugural banquet in Aquascalientes, Mexico. The event makes Mexico the third country in which the NWTF is represented through chapter involvement.
According to Scott Vance, the NWTF's assistant vice president of conservation administration, wild turkey restoration in Mexico is similar to where it was 50 years ago in the United States.
"Mexico has millions of acres of suitable Gould's wild turkey habitat unoccupied, and there's a tremendous opportunity to help restore populations," said Vance. "But the NWTF wants to do more than restore turkey populations. We also want to help improve local economies through hunting, provide conservation education to local communities and facilitate the research still needed for the Ocellated turkey and Gould's wild turkey."
To find out how to join, or for more information about NWTF Mexico, call (800) THE-NWTF.
NWTF Projects in Mexico
In August 2005, three Memorandums of Agreement (MOA's) between the NWTF and Mexican agencies were signed to formally recognize and guide wild turkey projects in Mexico.
An agreement with the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT) - similar to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - will allow the NWTF and its partners to do several things:
- Trap and transfer Gould's wild turkeys from Mexico into southeastern Arizona
- Conduct trap and transfer activities within the interior Sierra Madres and southern volcanic region of Mexico
- Determine the Gould's wild turkey population status and range throughout Mexico
- Foster a source population of Gould's wild turkeys in San Cayetano to restore historic populations in southern Mexico
- Conduct research on the Ocellated turkey in Campeche
Agreements also were signed with two private conservation organizations the Asociación de Manejadores de Vida Silvestre en México A.C. (AMAVISI) and the Espacios Naturales y Desarrollo Sustentable, A.C. (ENDESU). These agreements outline activities that will facilitate wild turkey research and restoration throughout Mexico.
Go for the Gould's
The NWTF has worked with the Arizona Department of Game and Fish, USDA Forest Service, USDA-Agriculture and Plant Health Inspection Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and many Mexican conservation partners for more than 20 years to restore Gould's wild turkeys to southeastern Arizona.
It has been a long and challenging process of international paperwork, lengthy protocol, and tactical obstacles. Through the perseverance of dedicated volunteers and natural resource professionals, however, Gould's wild turkeys have made a historic comeback.
Through the NWTF's Go for the Gould's conservation program, more than 100 Gould's wild turkeys have been relocated into suitable habitat in Arizona since 2002. Surveys and tracking work indicate relocated birds are quickly repopulating the rugged habitats of the Arizona "sky islands."
More than 300 wild turkeys were counted in a 2005 observational survey in the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista, Ariz. This population originated from about 25 Gould's released in the late 1980s.
This year, the NWTF plans to trap and transfer more than 140 Gould's wild turkeys into the mountains of southern Arizona. If these relocation efforts are successful, Gould's wild turkeys will be restored to suitable habitat in the state. With any luck, these populations will quickly expand and repopulate the areas that were once blessed with this majestic subspecies.
Ground-Breaking Ocellated Research
The NWTF in cooperation with Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT) and Asociación de Manejadores de Vida Silvestre en México A.C. (AMAVISI) are embarking on a monumental research project for Ocellated turkeys. Basic population and ecology information has been extremely limited for the Ocellated turkey. Due to the remote habitats and extreme conditions where the Ocellated turkey thrives, very little is known about these beautiful birds.
The planned research will be conducted with the goal of addressing concerns on the long-term welfare of this species. The data collected will provide critical information for wildlife managers in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize who are responsible for Ocellated turkey management and hunting regulations.
Research will help identify how many Ocellated turkeys exist within specific areas, their breeding and reproduction habits and how many Ocellated turkeys can be safely harvested without harming the population.
There will be two study areas: Kalakmul, which is a 1-million-acre Mayan Biosphere Reserve where hunting is not allowed; and La Montana Ranch, 25,000 acres of land where legal harvest is closely monitored.
Both areas have similar habitat (jungle) and both areas may be poached or subsistence hunted to an unknown degree.