The National Wild Turkey Federation announces the organization has achieved and surpassed its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative goals two years ahead of schedule.
“This is a celebratory moment for all of our chapters, members, partners volunteers, and staff whose hard work and dedication made such a momentous accomplishment possible,” NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said. “This is a huge win for hunters and conservationists from every sector of the industry, and it is especially a win for the wild turkey.”
The NWTF launched its 10-year Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative in 2012 to help turn the tide of declines in wild turkey populations and hunter participation and improve access for public hunting across the country. The initiative outlined three lofty goals, including conserving or enhancing 4 million acres of wildlife habitat, recruiting 1.5 million hunters and opening access to 500,000 acres to public hunting.
In just eight years, the organization has achieved and exceeded all of these goals. From August 2012 to August 2020, the NWTF conserved or enhanced 4,007,920 acres of wildlife habitat, recruited 1,530,162 new or lapsed hunters and opened 667,772 acres to hunting.
Despite the effects of COVID-19 in 2020, which hindered the organization financially and drastically reduced the scope of Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. implementation, the NWTF was still able to conserve or enhance more than 400,000 acres of wildlife habitat to complete the final goal of the initiative.
“The fact that we completed our Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative during a global pandemic while resources were abnormally limited, exceeding these goals truly exemplifies how resilient the NWTF is and how determined our supporters are,” Humphries said.
At the outset of the Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative, the NWTF identified dozens of areas that required immediate conservation needs. These areas of conservation focus were grouped into six distinct regions, known as America’s Big Six of Wildlife Conservation. These regions across the U.S. are predominately where the NWTF has used its resources in conserving and enhancing wildlife habitat for the wild turkey and an array of other species.
“Our mission delivery has been laser focused on achieving these goals,” said Mark Hatfield, NWTF national director of conservation services. “Without vital partnerships forged with our members, government agencies, industry and other like-minded nonprofit organizations, it wouldn’t have been possible to accomplish so much so quickly.”
Recruiting, retaining and reactivating 1.5 million hunters was integral to the NWTF’s Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative, not only for preserving America’s hunting heritage but also as hunting license sales contribute substantially to funding conservation efforts. Over the last eight years, the NWTF has continued to strengthened its R3 (recruit, retain, reactivate) efforts nationally and eclipsed the 10-year goal in 2019.
Working with numerous partners, private landowners and contributing to many land acquisitions, the NWTF was also able to exceed its public land access goal in 2018.
“More access to public lands and quality hunting grounds is so important for the hunting and outdoor community as a whole,” said Humphries. “Providing access for those who are just starting their hunting journey or those who may have lapsed because they didn’t have nearby access is especially important.”
Even though the NWTF has achieved and exceeded the set goals of Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt., it will not stop there.
“Our chapters, volunteers and partners will build upon the tremendous momentum that has accumulated since 2012 and continue to expand this great work into the years ahead,” NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said. “The NWTF remains a leader in the R3 effort and our on-the-ground conservation efforts are benefitting wild turkeys and other wildlife, forest health and resilience, communities and watersheds across the nation. Even when Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. is no longer an active initiative, these principles will always be a focus of the NWTF.”
For more information on the Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative, visit www.nwtf.org/about/save-the-habitat-hunt.