There are a few very important ecosystems that provide optimal habitat and will be vitally important to sustaining wild turkey numbers in the future.
Here are the types of habitats on which we should focus our efforts to ensure these critical components are provided for decades to come.
1. Habitats around rivers and streams (riparian zones)
What is it? Vegetation near river or stream banks
What’s the problem? Water availability is the greatest limiting factor in many areas
Why does it matter? Streamside habitats provide critical travel corridors and ribbons of high-quality mast-producing trees and shrubs
What the NWTF is doing: Protects and restores vital riparian habitats through conservation easements, removal of invasive species, establishing native plant species, and timber stand improvement.
2. Oaks and grasslands
What is it? Open canopies create lush ground cover with plenty of grasses, broadleaf plants and shrub
What’s the problem? A lack of active forest management and habitat conversion to agriculture and development have diminished them to less than 1 percent of their original amount
Why does it matter? Lightly forested grasslands, with oaks to provide roosting areas and food for wild turkeys
What the NWTF is doing: Works on public and private lands to remove some of the trees using selective herbicides and prescribed fire to restore oak savannas
3. Pine savannas
What is it? Open forested canopies dominated by pine trees, lush ground cover and interspersed grassland openings
What’s the problem? A lack of fire and conversion to other land uses has led to a dramatic loss of these habitats, experts estimate less than 1 percent still exists today
Why does it matter? Critical to wild turkeys and other upland wildlife, providing food, cover, brood habitat and nesting areas
What the NWTF is doing: Works on public and private lands to restore pine savannas through timber thinning, prescribed fire and reestablishing native grasses and forbs
4. Wildlife openings (often called, forest clearings, meadows, pastures)
What is it? Young stages of grass, forb, tree and shrub growth
What’s the problem? A lack of mowing, prescribed fire, disking or selective herbicide treatments, amounting to less than 2 percent of its habitat is open on in early growth stages
Why does it matter? Small 1-to-5-acre openings are best for wild turkeys, since they tend to use the forested edges of the openings
What the NWTF is doing: Creates and maintains thousands of acres of wildlife openings with the help of our partners each year