NWTF… an overview
What is the NWTF? It stands for National Wild Turkey Federation and it is an international non-profit organization whose mission is working towards the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage.
The National Wild Turkey Federation as a national, non-profit conservation organization is dedicated to the conservation, protection, safety and continued existence of wild turkeys.
Having more than 200,000 active, reliable members and dedicated volunteers, the National Wild Turkey Federation spreads across every state in the region with local chapters of the organization existing in each state.
The National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, with its headquarters in Edgefield, South Carolina, an attractive town listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Edgefield offers experiences in history, art, and small town living.
Edgefield is home of the NWTF’s headquarters, called The Wild Turkey Center, which serves a staff of regional directors and biologists. It currently has more than 250,000 members all over the United States, Mexico, Canada and 14 other countries. These members include volunteers, along with wildlife agency and corporate partners.
What does the NWTF do?
The National Wild Turkey Federation has several local chapters in every state. They have restored and managed North America’s current population of more than 7 million wild turkeys.
The National Wild Turkey Federation, along with its partners and members, has assisted in acquiring and improving hunts on more than 17,000,000 acres of both private and public lands, as well as corporate lands.
Additionally, The National Wild Turkey Federation is the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation in North America. It has spent more than $372 million sustaining habitat and ensuring the continuation of our hunting heritage.
The NWTF is leading a collaborative effort to solve the problem with the Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt. This initiative to conserve and enhance wildlife habitat is dynamically volunteer-based.
Many people associate the National Wild Turkey Federation only with turkey hunting enthusiasts, yet the federation has grown in the areas of conservation planning and habitat management for other species as well.
The National Wild Turkey Federation’s team of highly trained wildlife foresters and biologists operate in a variety of environments. These groups deliver projects which are of great benefit to many wildlife species alongside wild turkeys.
Over the past few decades, the NWTF team has grown, and this has also brought about growth in its conservation delivery footprint.
Wild turkeys are generalists and this has made the National Wild Turkey Federation’s habitat work a significant benefit to many game and non-game species alike, which also includes threatened and endangered species.
Because several National Wild Turkey Federation’s positions are developed cooperatively with partners, the NWTF has been able to bring its partners along on this journey by leveraging its support and knowledge to address mutual conservation priorities and challenges.
This has given the NWTF the credibility and platform to expand its reach beyond the turkey-centric components of its mission.
The National Wild Turkey Federation recently gave more attention and efforts to educating its partners, membership and the general public, concerning the multi-species benefits of its “Save the Habitat” program.
As of today, the focus of the National Wild Turkey Federation is on more than just turkeys. The NWTF is a trusted and valued partner within the conservation and hunting heritage arenas.
Beginning at a very tender age, wild turkeys roost in trees overnight. Therefore, without healthy forests, these young turkeys won’t survive adolescence. People generally do not make this connection. So, the NWTF has advanced in its endeavor to enlighten them about the link between healthy forests and quality wild turkey habitat.
Active forest management is at the foundation of much of the NWTF’s habitat work, and this is not just because of the “Save the Habitat” program.
The National Wild Turkey Federation has been honored as one of the leading members in the Forest In the Farm Bill (FIFB) coalition, the American Forest Foundation, and the National Association of State Foresters, and The Nature Conservancy.
Also, one other important goal of the NWTF is to bridge the gap between forestry and wildlife communities. And, to find consensus, wherever possible, to arrive at mutually agreeable recommendations. It is the belief of the National Wild Turkey Federation that when such recommendations are communicated with a common and unified voice by the forestry and wildlife communities, the cases will be stronger and more convincing to decision makers.
NWTF Outreach Programs
The NWTF has several outreach programs, many of which have assisted thousands of North American women, children and individuals with special needs in learning various outdoor skills. Some of these programs include the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Women in the Outdoors, JAKES and Wheelin’s Sportsmen programs, which have assisted people in learning to more deeply enjoy the outdoors and to understand the significance of wildlife management. The appreciation of hunting as an honorable and worthwhile pursuit is promoted as well.
JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics, and Sportsmanship)/Xtreme JAKES
This is a program organized by the National Wild Turkey Federation dedicated to teaching the principles of wildlife management. It aims to pass along the tradition of safe, responsible and ethical hunting, as well as other activities ranging from fishing to hiking. The program was developed in 1981 and is designed for children up to age 12.
A more advanced version of the Jakes is the Xtreme Jakes, developed by the National Wild Turkey Federation in 2002. This program is developed for teens between the age 13 and 17. The program is meant to advance outdoor opportunities and challenge more in line with teen’s abilities and experiences.
Wheelin’ Sportsmen National Wild Turkey Federation:
This program, developed by NWTF, is meant to provide opportunities to people with disabilities and special needs. The program is meant to help them enjoy the outdoors through local chapter events nationwide. These events feature outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting and shooting. Through this program, chapters host Wheelin’ Sportsmen NWTF events across North America involving individuals with disabilities in the outdoors.
Save the Habit, Save the Hunt
This is the National Wild Turkey Federation’s 10-year initiative to enhance or preserve 4 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. It aims to do this by bringing focus to conservation delivery, through identifying areas of habitat that provide the most significant impact for wildlife. It’s an aggressive charge that mobilizes science, fundraising, and volunteers to not only keep the NWTF alive, but also to expand its purpose.
The National Wild Turkey Federation has made tremendous progress in its Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt program. It has recruited 1.5 million hunters since its inception. It’s securing the future of the North American model of wildlife preservation by increasing the number of hunters, who pay for 80% of wildlife conservation through excise taxes on ammunition, guns and more.
This initiative also grants open access to 500,000 additional acres for hunting. The lack of access to hunting lands is the main reason people stop hunting. So, the National Wild Turkey Federation is driving the effort to solve this problem, by ensuring that there is an opportunity for everyone to find a place to go hunting.
State NWTF chapters will continue to be key actors in attaining this national goal of opening access to 500,000 new acres. So, the NWTF is actively working with all of National Wild Turkey Federation’s partners, most significantly state agencies. Agencies can always use more dedicated funding to lease properties, purchase signage, and delineate borders and support staff and several other aspects of public hunting programs. Cost sharing goes a long way, and locally generated funds can be matched from other sources to create funds that benefit all.
The objectives of the NWTF in doing this access work are extremely significant, not only for access but the entire initiative.
Federal public lands throughout much of the nation provide opportunities for most sportsmen and women to hunt and shoot targets. These public lands can be made more accessible by securing conservation easements, fee-title purchases of private lands from willing sellers, or other rights of way.
Women in the Outdoors
This program was developed specifically for women and is dedicated to providing hands-on outdoor education. Events allow women to try out activities such as hiking, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. This program is conducted throughout the United States and Canada.
Making Tracks is a cooperative program between the National Wild Turkey Federation and provincial, federal and state wildlife agencies. It aims to restore wild turkeys to all suitable habitat in North America. Also, the NWTF works with wildlife agencies to coordinate the trapping and transfer of wild turkeys.
In areas where they are abundant, wild turkeys are trapped with nets that are propelled or dropped over flocks that are feeding. The populations of Wild Turkey have more than doubled since 1990. The NWTF regularly provides trapping equipment for trapping these birds, as well as transfer boxes in which individual birds are placed. It also assists in coordinating wild turkey transfers between states, provinces and nations with suitable habitats that have few or no wild turkeys.
Since its establishment, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and its wildlife agency partners, have been able to accelerate the movement of over 192,000 wild turkeys into various suitable habitats.
Hunting Heritage Super Fund
The NWTF, along with partners from federal, state and provincial wildlife agencies, has also conducted Hunting Heritage Super Fund projects. The Hunting Heritage Super Fund projects establish walk-in hunting areas, develop water resources, plant wildlife openings, conduct prescribed burns, as well as co-host outdoor learning events for women, children and individuals with disabilities through its 2,350 chapters across the country.
The Hunting Heritage Super Fund Banquet is a primary fundraiser for the National Wild Turkey Federation, in which members and volunteers come together to have fun, while purchasing firearms and merchandise that are exclusive to NWTF banquets.
This Banquet program was established in 1983 as an exciting way for each member to support the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), while introducing new people to conservation and the outdoors. Funds raised during the super fund program is used Hunting Heritage Super Fund projects, comprising conservation and outreach projects in the states raising the funds.
As a result of this Super fund, National Wild Turkey Federation partners and volunteers have spent more than $372 million in upholding traditions and preserving more than 17,000,000 acres of wildlife habitat.
North American Wild Turkey Management Plan
The National Wild Turkey Federation also has in place the North American Wild Turkey Management Plan. This plan is designed to discover wild turkey habitat and prospective habitat projects throughout North America.
This is to be achieved using the geographic information system (GIS) technology. Since its inception, this plan has assisted in establishing 2,000,000 acres of wild turkey habitat in North America.
It is worth noting that this plan has received both international and national endorsement from the Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Management and Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
Regional Habitat Programs
The National Wild Turkey Federation also coordinates regional habitat programs which provides tree seedlings, seeds and other habitat improvement products to its various chapters, as well as private landowners, across North America.
This program includes Operation Oak (Southeast), Guzzlers for Gobblers (West), Northern Plains Riparian Restoration Initiative, Operation Heartland (Mideast), Operation Appleseed (Northeast), Southern Great Plains Riparian Initiative, Operation SOS (Upper Midwest and Ontario, Canada), and Operation Big Sky (Great Plains).
Since 1997, over 1.5 million seedlings have been planted by the NTWF. The NWTF has also provided 300 tons of oat hay and left 2,500 acres of standing grain to help landowners with large wintering populations of wild turkeys. The NWTF has also conducted 856 water development projects. The National Wild Turkey Federation and its partners, through the Guzzlers program alone, have put more than $3.5 million into improving projects in the west.
Project Help (Habitat Enhancement Land Program)
The National Wild Turkey Federation also has this program in place to assist landowners with enhancing and maintaining their land by providing guidance, and offering seedlings and seed at competitive prices. There have been sales of over 3 million pounds of seeds and 2.5 million seedlings, making a total of 161,000 acres that have been planted for wild turkeys and other wildlife.
America’s Big Six
The National Wild Turkey Federation has taken a more strategic approach to conservation of the Big Six. National Wild Turkey Federation conservation experts identified regions across the country with similar ecosystems and conservation issues. Six areas of concern were established to help identify the most urgent needs and to better monitor conservation objectives.
This initiative will allow the NWTF and its partners to focus more limited funding and staff on the top priority conservation needs within each region.
The improved system no longer focuses on individual areas, but will impact the sustainability of species and habitats across large landscapes.
The areas of distinction within the Big Six include 738 million areas of identified focal landscapes are:
1. America’s Western Wildlands
2. America’s Great Open Spaces
3. America’s Crossroads
4. America’s Mid-South Rebirth
5. America’s Southern Piney Woods
6. America’s Colonial Forests
The basic conservation objectives of the Big Six are to:
a. Improve the diversity of the habitat
b. Improve the forest health
c. Improve the quality of water available in the region
d. Enhance pine management
e. Increase wildlife survival during winter.
f. Maintain healthy hardwood forests.
g. Restore oak woodlands.
h. Restore prairies.
i. Stop habitat loss.
Education Programs and Field Trips
The National Wild Turkey Federation organizes this program in which the halls of the Wild Turkey Center come alive with squawks, squeaks and imaginative attempts at turkey calls. It’s a program that gives opportunities to visitors who have been preparing for turkey season to learn all about wild turkey.
The NWTF field trip programs are for the young and the young at heart. Visitors of all ages leave the National Wild Turkey Federation facility with a better understanding of the conservation success story that surrounds the wild turkey, and the role hunting has played in that success. Visitors can sign up to take a guided museum tour.
For those who are feeling more adventurous, they can decide to go on a habitat hike, play a game of camouflage hide and seek, learn about native forests and habitats, and find out how to reduce, reuse and recycle to save the environment.
Finally, National Wild Turkey Federation produces two television shows that can be seen on the pursuit channel. They include the “Turkey Call,” a fast–paced, magazine-style program with America’s most popular game bird as the star of the show, and “Get in the Game,” which provides viewers with land management tips and secrets for attracting wildlife to their property.
The National Wild Turkey Federation Banquet hosts approximately 100,000 individuals each year, including those with disabilities and special needs.
NWTF Academic Scholarship Program
The National Wild Turkey Federation presents a $10,000 national scholarship every year to students that are entering college. It also sponsors several $1,000 state academic scholarships, as well as $250 local scholarships.
The National Wild Turkey Federation also partners with the FFA (Future Farmers of America) in providing a $5,000 scholarship to students pursuing a wildlife management course or an agriculture degree course. The program has recorded a stunning $2.2 million as award payment for their scholarship program.
The National Wild Turkey Federation Academic Scholarship Program is available to applicants who are seniors and have a GPA of 3.0 and above, and who plan to attend a higher institution of learning. Applicants must be members of the National Wild Turkey Federation and actively engaged in hunting activities.
The NWTF also hosts the Families Afield Initiative that promotes hunting opportunities for youths. Some of the opportunities are the U. S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the National Rifle Association.
All these bodies work in cooperation with the NWTF to reduce hunting barriers and subsequently remove barriers for new and young hunters throughout the country. So far, more than 87,000 new hunters have been introduced into the field through Families Afield legislation and regulation changes.
More Places to Hunt
This is a program designed by the National Wild Turkey Federation to assist in providing more lands for hunters, either on public or private lands. Since 1987, the amount already spend in this endeavor is about $9 million, on more than 400,000 acres of land for hunters.
This intervention is as a result of widespread urban expansion, tightened state agency, changes in land ownership and tightened federal budgets which have reduced hunters’ private and public access to quality wildlife hunting zones.
Regional Habitat Programs:
The NWTF has also designed the regional Habitat Programs to aid in the provision of seeds, tree seedlings and other products that will help improve the habitat, to landowners of private and public land property across North America. There are eight (8) programs included under the Regional Habitat Programs. They are:
1. Operation Appleseed basically for North East America
2. Operation Oak basically for South East America
3. Operation Heartland basically for Midwest America
4. Operation SOS basically for Upper Midwest and for Ontario in Canada.
5. Operation Big Sky basically for the Great Plains.
6. Guzzlers for Gobblers basically for the Western part of America.
7. Southern Great Plains Riparian Initiative
8. Northern Plains Riparian Restoration Initiative.
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has a good record of 1.5 million seedlings planted, 856 water development projects carried out, 300 tons of oat hay provided for individuals concerned, and 2,500 acres of grains assigned to assist owners of lands with large wintering population of wild turkeys.
HELP which is acronym for Habitat Enhancement Land Program, is a National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) program developed so as to help owners of landed property in the region in managing and enhancing their lands by providing information, guidance and also giving out seeds and seedlings at comparable prices.
Go for the Gould’s
This program incorporates the Arizona Game and Fish Department, along with the NWTF, and aims to transfer and equally restore the Gould’s wild turkey from Mexico and Arizona to their rightful residences (the Chiricahua, Huachuca and Pinalenos mountains and the Santa Ritas and Santa Catalinas mountains of southern Arizona.)
The Gould’s wild turkey once existed in these areas until they were eradicated. The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has spent more than $428,000 in the restoration of the Gould’s wild turkey.
Save the habitat. Save the Hunt:
The Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt program is the National Wild Turkey Federation’s 10-year initiative, with multiple objectives of preserving the habitat of wild turkeys. The objectives of this initiative are:
1. To conserve or to enhance 4 million acres of land that are termed as critical wildlife habitat. This is to identify areas of habitat that has the most positive impact on wildlife.
2. To enable recruitment of 1.5 million hunters. This is to secure the future of North American example of Wildlife conservation through cutting down the taxes on guns and ammos.
3. To open access to 500,000 additional acres of land for hunting. So as to improve on the lack of access to hunting lands which has made people quit hunting. This will ensure that everyone has a place to go for hunting to carry on the hunting tradition.
Be Part of the Solution
The National Wild Turkey Federation emphasizes the importance of tackling the above stated challenges cooperatively. The NWTF helps in leading the struggle to bring about a solution to this problem.
It is left to us as individuals, as an entire industry and as a community, to become part of the solution. How can you help? By joining the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) now and begin to do your own part by giving your contribution in terms of money, volunteer hours, and also your energy to save the wild turkey habitat and thereby save the hunt.
NWTF on TV
The National Wild Turkey Federation also states that their most valuable resource is people and volunteers that are not afraid or ashamed to get a little stained or dirty when it comes to saving something of great importance. “The Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt” initiative is paramount in ensuring the future of wildlife and hunting is preserved.
The National Wild Turkey Federation also hosts a number of televisions programs that can be seen on The Pursuit Channel. These programs include “Turkey Call,” and “Get In The Game.”
The National Wild Turkey Federation also publishes Magazines.
This is the flagship publication of the NWTF and it is dedicated to field research, updates on the latest products that are centered on turkey hunting, visionaries and conservationists.
JAKES is dedicated to news and information that will interest and also benefit the young people, primarily kids.
Xtreme JAKES is a magazine basically for teenagers whose interest is in hunting and outdoor activities.
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Convention and Sport Show
The National Wild Turkey Federation hosts conventions and sport shows every year and is one of the biggest consumer shows in the United States where the most devoted supporters and enthusiasts of the NWTF come together for a whole weekend.
The get-together enables participants to relax and spend a weekend of learning, communication, interaction, networking and having fun.
The convention and sport show was put together to celebrate more than 40 years of consistent conservation victories and accomplishments by NWTF volunteers and its partners. It is also said to be a kind of rally for great anticipation of exploits still to come.
The show is usually so exciting and fun filled that people return each year, some even bringing their friends, associates, family members, loved ones and co-workers for the celebration.
The National Wild Turkey Federation has branches in most states in the United States of America. The New York branch of the National Wild Turkey Federation is one of the branches with a record of critical habitat work.
The NWTF New York works in association with land owners and their partners to restore the state of New York’s turkey population through serious and extreme habitat work.
The volunteers of the NWTF also help in providing more opportunities for educating hunters on how to effectively hunt for wild turkey and also hunting opportunities for people, whether old or young, disabled or competent.
The National Wild Turkey Federation New York also determinatively seeks opportunities to open or provide access to more land for hunting.
What makes the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) stand out?
The National Wild Turkey Federation is exceptional among other conservation organizations because of its dedication and sincerity in carrying out the services promised.
A hands-on job is carried out, consisting of forestry work and engagement in conservation on federal public lands.
Another reason the NWTF stands out is the fact that it has more than 50 employed professional conservation staff situated in different parts of the country. They work alongside private, state and federal agencies and also landowners, to ensure the implementation of forest management and other wildlife habitat projects.
Also, the National Wild Turkey Federation engages in professional and business agreements or partnerships with organizations and agencies with similar interests, such as the USFS (United States Forest Service). The National Wild Turkey Federation, together with the USFS have worked together to deliver lots of projects that have benefitted wildlife and wildlife-based recreation.
Turkey Nuisance and Damage Management
The increase in the population of wild turkey over the last 2-3 decades has seen the species become established in virtually all areas of the country. While turkey complaints have not been uniformly recorded, reports from field staff show that there has also been a rise in turkey destruction and nuisance complaints.
Most of these complaints still concern agricultural damage, but there are now cases of turkeys causing problems in non-agricultural situations.
As we progress from an era of population restoration to long-term stewardship of an established and secure turkey resource, it is important to address wild turkey nuisance complaints and damage.
Damage occurs when wild turkeys become a nuisance, destructive to public or private property (including agriculture), or threaten public health or welfare.
Types of Damage caused by wild turkeys
Department staff has received complaints about turkey damage or nuisance involving:
• grapes in vineyards
• stored silage – pecking holes in agricultural silage storage bags (“ag-bags”) or entering bunker silos and eating silage, or both
• harvested ear corn stored in outside cribs
• seed, seedling, and mature standing corn
• seedlings and seeds of other grains such as rye, wheat, and oats
• clover and alfalfa, especially digging up roots
• tearing up turf on golf greens and newly-established lawns
• digging up residential gardens and consuming vegetables and flower bulbs
• acting aggressively toward people
• damaging cars by scratching and pecking
• posing a hazard to aircraft on runways
Based on the National Wild Turkey Federation’s observations and complaints received, damage to grapes and stored silage appear to be the most vital concerns. In most cases, the level of concern and severity of the cost is in direct proportion to the number of turkeys involved. However, in some situations, even a small number of birds can cause significant damage (e.g., golf greens, high-value crops, or turkeys on runways).
How the National Wild Turkey Federation Deals with wild turkey problems
The National Wild Turkey Federation will use all available measures to provide solutions to farmers, homeowners, businesses, or other individuals or entities that are experiencing difficulty or damage due to wild turkeys.
While not every department in the various arm of the NWTF will be unable to make field inspections in all cases, they are committed to maintaining current knowledge of the nature of turkey complaints, trends in reports of turkey damage, and how to alleviate problems in the most cost-efficient and timely manner possible. These Departments will provide the following forms of assistance:
Research has shown that turkeys may not necessarily be responsible for all the damage they are thought to cause. This is a vital determination, if staff and landowner effort are to be channeled appropriately to solve the problem.
This decision may be made with or without a site visit, based on factors such as the type of crop or resource affected, experience, available evidence, landowner interest, and knowledge. Staff familiarity with the damage patterns of various species is vital, and creative or non-traditional verification methods may be necessary. Under certain circumstances, motion-triggered cameras may be used. In other cases, a limited kill permit and subsequent analysis of crop contents may be used.
Staff will assist landowners in resolving their wildlife damage problems, regardless of what species is responsible.
Information and Education
Once a complaint has been properly evaluated, the Disaster Emergency Committee will make information and advice available to the landowner who is affected. This advice will vary depending on the severity of the damage and the species that are responsible.
In situations where a species other than wild turkey is found to be the cause, the department will proceed as appropriate for that species. In instances where turkeys are found to be causing nuisance or damage, they will provide assistance and information to reduce or prevent this nuisance or disturbance.
In situations where information and education alone will not mitigate concerns about turkey damage, site-specific technical assistance will be offered to the landowner. This technical assistance may include lethal or non-lethal methods and, in either case, National Wild Turkey Federation will consist of planning and action to prevent future problems.
In appropriate situations, permits will be issued authorizing the destruction of turkeys causing damage.
This may include attempts to modify the behavior of the turkeys causing damage, removing the attractant, habitat modification, or installing barriers to reduce the cost. Non-lethal control techniques may be used at any time without a Disaster Emergency Committee Permit.
NWTF online media
There are a number of online media that have been set up by the National Wild Turkey Federation to promote the interest of individuals enthusiastic about wildlife management.
The NWTF website is www.nwtf.org. This site contains all the information and resources of National Wild Turkey Federation, centered on everything about wild turkey. It contains features such as NWTF regional and national news, tips and tricks on turkey calling and hunting, banquet, turkey calling contest and information on shooting events.
It also contains audios on turkey sounds and information about wild turkey. There you can get the links to sites handling NWTF outreach programs, message boards and also the Turkey Shoppe, an online store constituting of hunting gear, literature on conservation and NWTF products and clothing.
There is also MyoutdoorTV.com that features requested videos of quality NWTF TV shows 24 hours a day.
For more information on the NWTF, please visit www.nwtf.org.