NWTF state chapters open new roads for Wild Turkey research

NWTF’s super Hunting Heritage background is a decades of decades known throughout the country as a conservation engine. Created in the NWTF formative years, the Super Fund is a program promoted by volunteers. The model begins and ends with the backbone of the organization: NWTF volunteers in every state raise money at banquets and other types of fundraisers and then allocate a significant portion of those funds to significant conservation and outreach projects in their respective states. It is a perfect example of how NWTF really operates as a national federation. Recently, two states linked forces to achieve a unique approach to its kind for the model: use superfologies through state borders.

When the NWTF Tennessee State Chapter held its annual Super Fund meeting in 2022, it had more funding requests than funds to distribute. One particularly important project that the state wanted to fund, but had no extra money for, was a state-of-the-art wild turkey research project.

A casual meeting between two NWTF unconditional volunteers would show how versatile had the Super Fund Nwtf became.

NWTF Indiana volunteer Patrick McFadden and new NWTF Tennessee State Chapter President Mark Darnell met for the first time at the NWTF 46th Annual Convention & Sports Show. Six months later, its meeting would facilitate an unprecedented movement in NWTF’s conservation history.

Breaking new ground, Darnell called McFadden to see if Indiana would be interested in helping fund the $25,000 request for Wild Turkey research, a project that would benefit Tennessee turkeys and potentially eastern subspecies in general.

McFadden submitted the request to the Board of Directors of the Indiana State Chapter. They answered the call and promised to finance the investigation through their super background.

“The money raised from fundraising events is not specific to the State,” said McFadden. “The money collected is for our mission, the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage. Working across state lines with like-minded volunteers like Mark solidifies my enthusiasm to continue doing what I can for the NWTF and our beloved wild turkey.”

NWTF Indiana contributed $25,000 on behalf of the Tennessee State Chapter to help cover the cost of toxicology testing, lab supplies and technician time.

“The partnership really exemplifies how NWTF volunteers are thinking about turkey populations on a national scale,” said Derek Alkire, NWTF district biologist for Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. “A great credit for the presidents of the state chapters of Indiana and Tennessee for communicating through the state borders to finance projects that are beneficial for the populations of wild turkeys in general. Although this research is taking place at the University of Tennessee, its potential impact could extend far beyond state lines.”

UT’s investigation seeks to address the decrease in the population by better understanding the factors of incorrect hatching, specifically at an embryonic level.

“The research will investigate the fertilization of the ovule and the evidence of early embryonic mortality in wild turkey egg the University of Tennessee. “This will be a cooperative study with several wildlife agencies that have expressed an enthusiastic interest in the study.”

During the 2023 wild turkey nesting season, the state -life state agencies participating in the investigation will collect non -hatching eggs through various media, from simply looking in the habitat of wild turkeys to use chickens marked with radio that are Part of other Wild Turmony Research Projects.

Once the eggs are collected, the research team will record a variety of data, including whether the eggs came from a nest where other eggs hatched, were predated or abandoned by the hen. Gerhold and the team estimate that about 300 eggs will be analyzed.

“The data will also be collected with respect to the hunting seasons of the participating states,” Gerhold said. “The fertility rates of eggs will be analyzed and compared according to the specific data of the State to determine if the start date, the stock limits, the duration of the season and other factors influence the fertilization of the eggs.”

In addition, the material of the eggs identified with early embryonic death will be preserved and analyzed to detect toxins, such as aflatoxins and neonicotinoids.

“Our volunteers and members understand the importance of our mission and the role science plays in informing everything we do and support around wild turkey,” said Ryan Boyer, NWTF district biologist for Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

“The results of this research project could have impacts that expand far beyond a state limit. Praise our voluntary leadership in Indiana and Tennessee for recognizing that and providing support. For me, this is one of those monumental examples of basic conservation at its expression at a time when we need it. ”

The Super Hunting Heritage background of NWTF, established in 1985, has helped the organization reach many of the milestones of which it is incredibly proud, including more than 20 million acres of wildlife habitat preserved or improved, millions of new hunters recruited, innumerable acres open to the access of public hunting and almost $ 9 million invested in Wild Turkey’s investigation, much more.

While the last 50 years have been remarkable, NWTF volunteers are stepping up to push the organization forward for the next 50 years. This cross-cutting approach is just the beginning.