Wild Turkey Foundation has helped bring popular bird back from the brink.
Once found in incredible numbers, the wild turkey was almost completely wiped out by the early 1900s following a century of habitat destruction and commercial slaughter. By the Great Depression, only 30,000 wild turkeys remained.
Turkey populations slowly rebounded to roughly 1.3 million birds throughout the United States by 1973, the year the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) was founded. Since then, that number has more than tripled and now stands at 5.4 million birds thanks to the efforts of the NWTF, its members, public and private partners, and state and federal wildlife agencies. Today, turkeys are one of the most popular game species in the U.S., with 2.6 million sportsman considering themselves turkey hunters.
The NWTF is a national nonprofit conservation and education organization dedicated to conserving wild turkeys and preserving hunting traditions. Their goal is to teach the importance of responsible wildlife management, increase participation in outdoor related opportunities, and preserve the hunting tradition.
Since its inception, the NWTF's conservation partners and grassroots members have raised more than $130 million for projects benefitting wild turkeys throughout North America. The group started with 1,300 members in 1973 and has grown to 315,000 today. Kansas boasts 23 chapters and more than 2,500 members.
NWTF's popular Women In The Outdoors program is designed to introduce more women to outdoor activities, train women as outdoor educators, and provide a network for men and women with similar outdoor interests. Two Women In The Outdoors events are scheduled in Kansas this year -- May 6 at Rock Springs 4-H camp in Junction City and in late September at the Ringneck Ranch in Tipton. For more information, contact Becky Johnson, women's regional coordinator, at (785) 257-3335.
NWTF also focuses on young people. Their JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics, and Sportsmanship) program is dedicated to informing, educating, and involving North America's youth in wildlife conservation and the wise stewardship of our natural resources. With a growing number of turkey hunters, the JAKES program is also designed to help pass on the traditions of hunting with a strong eye toward ethics and safety.
Visit the NWTF website at www.nwtf.org or call 1-800-THE-NWTF for membership information.