Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
Division of Fish and Wildlife, Wild Turkey Federation
join forces to improve wild turkey habitat in Delaware
DOVER (May 9, 2014) – With Delaware’s annual spring turkey season winding down, it is worth highlighting that the wild turkey remains one of Delaware’s top wildlife restoration successes. After wild turkeys nearly became extinct in the early 20th century, DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife partnered with the Delaware Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation in the early 1980s to re-establish a wild turkey population in the state. By 1991, the population had grown large enough to open a wild turkey hunting season, and the big birds continue to thrive and multiply today.
Building on this success, the state wildlife agency, National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and the Delaware Chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation have committed to a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that establishes a framework for their conservation partnership with DNREC to continue into the future to further improve wild turkey habitat in Delaware and promote turkey conservation and hunting.
“We are working together to accomplish mutually beneficial wild turkey conservation goals, including public education, wildlife habitat management, and research projects and activities in Delaware,” said David Saveikis, Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Wild turkey season attracts both resident and non-resident hunters to Delaware, supporting conservation and bringing economic benefits that bolster Delaware’s ‘Conservation Economy.’”
“The restoration of the wild turkey is one of the greatest conservation success stories in North America, and Delaware’s story is a great example of that success,” said Dr. James Earl Kennamer, chief conservation officer for more than 30 years with the National Wild Turkey Federation, who recently visited the First State.
“By working with great conservation partners like the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, we can accomplish even more as the wild turkey population continues to grow and thrive,” added Becky Humphries, NWTF Executive Vice President for Conservation. “We look forward to continuing this partnership to share Delaware’s conservation tradition with present and future generations.”
“Managed hunting provided the incentive and basis for the restoration and conservation of wild turkeys,” said Thomas Spangler, president of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Delaware Chapter. “Now we are looking to build on that foundation to keep Delaware’s wild turkey population strong through additional habitat conservation and enhancement.”
Hunter education is an important component in the success and safety record of Delaware’s annual turkey season, Spangler added, noting that Delaware hunters must successfully complete a mandatory turkey hunter safety and education class before they can legally hunt wild turkeys in Delaware. Turkey hunters also are required to carry their Hunter Education Card, certifying successful completion of the course.
The Delaware MOU dovetails with the goals of the NWTF’s current national initiative, “Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt.” These national goals include:
· Conserve or enhance 4 million acres of habitat, with priorities set by science, for wild turkeys, quail, deer and other game and non-game species.
· Improve four key habitat types: forests; streamside corridors; fields and meadows; and scrubland and grasslands.
· Attract 1.5 million new hunters.
· Advocate for hunting and hunter’s rights.
· Remove barriers/introduce new people to hunting.
· Increase access to 500,000 acres for public hunting.
Established in 1973 to perpetuate populations of wild turkeys on suitable ranges for the use and enjoyment of the American people, the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage. The NWTF is actively involved in wild turkey research and promotes sportsmanship ethics, hunting safety, wildlife conservation and conservation education on public and private lands for its more than 250,000 members as well as the entire hunting community. For more information, visit www.nwtf.org.
The Delaware Chapter of the NWTF raises more than $10,000 annually and allocates more than $7,000 annually in NWTF funding in partnership with the Division of Fish and Wildlife for conservation, law enforcement, land management, research and a variety of projects, as well as programs for youth, women, and disabled persons. For more information on NWTF-DE, visit www.nwtf.org/delaware.
Vol. 44, No. 153