Aloha, From the NWTF
When picturing Hawaii, most people think only of grass skirts, tropical drinks and sandy beaches, but the islands are also a paradise for hunters. Hawaii offers hunters the opportunity to chase six animals and 14 birds, including the wild turkey.
Since its inception in 1995, the National Wild Turkey Federation's Hawaii State Chapter has partnered successfully with the Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources (HDLNR) to improve wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities on the highly-visited islands. The Volcano Island Chapter, (the first chapter created on the islands), has provided almost $200,000 in volunteer services to the HDLNR.
"The volunteers are our strength," said Jon Sabati, NWTF's Hawaii State Chapter president. "Our members are willing to get out and help anywhere they are needed."
NWTF's Hawaiian chapters have donated Wild About Turkey Education Boxes to schools, sent HDLNR biologists to wildlife agency conventions, taught children about conservation and the outdoors, built handicapped accessible restrooms at a gun range, planted thousands of trees and built water tanks to provide both game and non-game birds with fresh water in the dry-forest areas on Kauai, Oahu and the big island. Over the past two years the NWTF sent $18,500 from the National Projects Fund to Hawaii to build water sources through the NWTF's Guzzlers for Gobblers program. Guzzler projects are more expensive in Hawaii due to regulations that require guzzlers (water catchment devices used to collect rainwater for turkeys) be designed exclusively for birds.
"The Hawaiian Islands may be surrounded by water, but they are also volcanic islands in sea water," said Scott Vance, the NWTF's Guzzlers for Gobblers coordinator. "There are a lot of areas that are very dry, and the turkeys in those areas really benefit from more water sources."
The Hawaii chapters want to accomplish two goals: habitat enhancement and education. They want to reach out and teach everyone on the islands about the connection between hunting and conservation. According to Sabati, chapters are accomplishing these goals. Over the last eight years, the Volcano Chapter grew 700 percent. There is now a second chapter on the island of Oahu consisting of 20 members.
Because Hawaii chapters cannot hold raffles (considered a form of gambling by the state), they have received help from other NWTF chapters in their fund-raising efforts. For example, the NWTF Arizona State Chapter raffles a Hawaiian turkey hunt and fishing vacation and donates $1,000 to the Hawaiian Chapter in exchange.
Sabati believes NWTF succeeds because the chapters and the volunteers work together for the benefit of wildlife.
"We are out there working for our ecosystem in Hawaii," Sabati said. "People see that and realize that we are making a difference."