The NWTF attracts members, staff and partners from many arenas, but the unifying element is the wild turkey. An iconic symbol of hope and the richness of our North America landscapes, the wild turkey will always be the focus of our mission at NWTF.
Since before the NWTF hired our first biologist, the NWTF Technical Committee has helped guide NWTF’s research and conservation efforts. The Technical Committee is comprised of experts in wild turkey biology and management from around the country. Today, it works with staff to establish research priorities and ensure NWTF dollars are supporting the most critical projects. Currently it is co-chaired by Adam Butler, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Wild Turkey Program coordinator, and Mark Hatfield, NWTF’s director of Conservation Programs. The Committee meets three times a year to share survey work, research results and management challenges.
Since 1977, the NWTF has invested over $8 million dollars ― with an average match of 3:1 ― into critical wild turkey research. The NWTF continues to work with state wildlife agencies, universities and other partners to ensure state wildlife agencies have the best available scientific information to manage their flocks.
So, what are we doing to address today’s challenges?
Wild turkey recovery is often heralded as one of the greatest conservation success stories in North America, but that success is also a lesson in complex population dynamics. The species has flourished, declined, recovered to flourish again, and is now experiencing declines again in some parts of its range. At a high level, population dynamics are simple: productivity must exceed turkey mortality in order to increase populations. However, with changes in multiple factors including habitat, weather, productivity and mortality, the ability to manage turkey populations has become more complex. The reality is there is no simple or quick fix for the areas where wild turkey populations are declining, but the Technical Committee and the NWTF continue to identify and work on pressing research needs and cooperatively explore ways to address them. Large-scale habitat restoration and management takes time, expertise and money … all of which the NWTF cooperatively provides our partners.
It also takes support and understanding from turkey hunters and other individual conservationists. Stay informed. Rarely are the answers simple. The NWTF is striving to better share wild turkey research work with you through our media channels.
Continue to support good land management on public and private lands. Be tolerant of active management activities such as timber harvest and prescribed fire, even when it affects your favorite hunting spot. Like many things in life, short-term pain results in long-term gain.
Be supportive of state wildlife agencies and science-driven changes in hunting regulations. Managers strive to use good scientific information and technical expertise to make these decisions.
Finally, your continued financial support is critical to fund good research and management. Working together, our favorite bird of North America will continue to flourish.