Dec 4, 2017 - Wild turkeys are making a comeback in America thanks to conservation efforts led by the National Wild Turkey Federation.
After reaching a record low of 200,000 in the early 1900s, wild turkey numbers are at roughly 6 million birds.
Wild turkeys numbered roughly 1.3 million when NWTF began operations in 1973, and officials believe the restoration of the wild turkey population since then is a direct result of dedicated conservation efforts.
Habitat restoration has been a big part of the comeback. In 2016, NWTF led efforts that resulted in the restoration of more than 572,000 acres as part of a 10-year conservation initiative.
In addition to wild turkey restoration, the organization has been a leader in the areas of conservation, habitat restoration and hunter recruitment and retention. And while its focus is on wild turkeys, the organization's scope reaches beyond the bird benefiting many other species including deer, elk, upland game, and songbirds.
Habitat restoration and management, as well as opening access to new hunting land, are a big part of NWTF’s mission. Its 10-year conservation initiative -- “Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt” -- aims to conserve or enhance 4 million acres of critical upland habitat, recruit 1.5 million new hunters, and open access to half a million new acres for hunting, sport shooting, and other outdoor recreation.
Another strategic plan, “America’s Big Six of Wildlife Conservation,” has identified six regions across the U.S. with similar ecosystems and conservation needs and opportunities related to forest health, clean water, critical habitat loss and robust wild turkey population.
The regions are identified as the Western Wildlands (Rocky Mountain and Pacific states); the Great Open Spaces (the Western plains from eastern Montana down through central Texas); the Crossroads (Midwest and Great Lakes states); the Mid-South (the upper South from Arkansas to the highlands of western Virginia and North Carolina); the Southern Piney Woods (coastal south from east Texas extending to the Virginia tidewater on the Atlantic seaboard); and the Colonial Forests (northern Appalachia and New England).