Canadian Provinces Helping Expand NWTF Programs
In 1996, Randy Roloson went on his first successful turkey hunt and discovered a new passion. As he says it, "I was bit by the turkey bug."
When the newly-avid turkey hunter began noticing on-the-ground efforts by NWTF volunteers to help provincial wildlife agencies improve turkey populations, he knew he had to get involved. Today Roloson is one of three Canadians serving on the NWTF Canada's board of directors.
"Those NWTF volunteers really impressed me." Roloson remembers. "They didn't scream and cry for others to do things for them, they quietly went out and did what needed to be done."
Roloson lives in Ontario, a province that has especially benefited from the NWTF and its programs, (click here for information on NWTF efforts in Ontario), but the Canadian branch of the National Wild Turkey Federation is also working to expand wild turkey populations in the other provinces.
Take Manitoba. Wild turkeys were first released there in 1957, through a partnership between the Manitoba Conservation and Wild Gobblers Unlimited. The province has had a resident-only turkey season since1977. That first season was very limited, but today residents can harvest one bird each year in either the spring or the fall.
In 2003, the NWTF started its first Manitoba chapter — the Winnipeg Wild Gobblers. The chapter offers outdoor opportunities to children through the NWTF's JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) program and works protect the region's hunting heritage.
"Kids can't hunt alone (in Manitoba) until they are 18 years old," said John Krupinski, the chapter's first president. "We pair them with a mentor so they can learn and experience the outdoors together."
Krupinski's chapter also plans to benefit from the technical expertise of NWTF biologists. NWTF biologist Scott Vance has already made two trips to the province and plans to visit again this June to give habitat and management advice.
"An initial survey of turkey populations showed that Manitoba has good populations of wild turkeys throughout the province," Vance said. "Through a continuing partnership with the NWTF we can improve habitat and management strategies to provide more hunting opportunities and increase turkey populations."
Other provinces also feature NWTF chapters, even those that don't currently support turkey populations. Nova Scotia currently has no wild turkeys, but hosts four NWTF chapters that are working hard to bring birds to the province and to protect their hunting heritage. British Columbia and New Brunswick also host NWTF Chapters that have started raising money for wild turkey programs in their provinces. In all, more than 44 chapters are working for the wild turkey in Canada.