Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Tesia Galvan
Staff Writer 

'Save the habitat, save the hunt'

National Wild Turkey Federation initiative to reverse loss of access for hunters


September 14, 2016

WORLAND – A national wildlife organization started an initiative to reverse the declining numbers of hunters and increase access.

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) recently launched “Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt.” A national “initiative with the effort to reverse the trends of declining hunter numbers, habitat loss, and loss of access for outdoor recreationists,” Regional Director with National Wild Turkey Federation Jason Tarwater said.

The organization was founded in 1973 and has since helped restore turkey numbers to nearly seven million.

The NWTF initiative for “Saved the Habitat, Save the Hunt” is a “nation-wide effort to create 1.5 million new hunters, conserve and/or enhance 4 million acres of habitat, and open 500,000 acres of public access.

This is a national effort, but it all starts with our local chapters and volunteers,” Tarwater said, and in Wyoming specifically the “Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt” has long-term goals.

Over a 10 year period the Wyoming initiative for “Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt” wants to improve the quality of 5,000 forested acres, restore or enhance the quality of 5,000 riparian acres, increase winter food availability for all wildlife, increase 20 hunt safety classes, help provide 300,000 acres of hunting access and recruit 500 new hunters.

“We are a large organization that isn’t just dedicated to turkeys. There is much more to do for wildlife conservation than to just focus on a single species. We have lofty goals, but they are attainable with grassroots support from local volunteers,” Tarwater said.

Tarwater said the NWTF has over 1,600 chapter spread across the nation, and of right now, the only chapter they have in the Big Horn Basin is based out of Cody.

“We have over 200,000 members across the country, and increasing this membership base gives us a more powerful voice when issues that threaten sportsmen and women arise. We would really like to build chapter in the Lovell, and Worland area to increase our membership, and ultimately our ‘voice’ for sportsmen and women across the state,” Tarwater said.

NWTF Wyoming projects

Tarwater said other noteworthy projects in the Basin include “nearly $50,000 that we have given to the Yellowtail Wildlife Habitat Management Area. Since 2008 the NWTF has contributed $65,000 toward the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s “Access Yes” program that helps open up private land for public access that has assisted in keeping over 280,000 acres open to hunters.”

Member benefits and youth involvement

“Being a member of the NWTF is a great thing. You not only get six magazines every year, but you are part of a nationwide effort in protecting our hunting heritage,” Tarwater said.

Tarwater said the NWTF has one of the largest youth programs. “In Wyoming, the NWTF has two inflatable BB gun ranges that can travel around to events that our chapters host. We can also pair these ranges up with other shooting sports for older youth.”

He said at the national level the is one of the founding organizations of the Families Afield program, a program that lessens the restrictions on youth to obtain hunting licenses, and creates Apprentice Licenses.

Membership opportunity

“There is always a need for folks to give back to wildlife conservation, and protecting our hunting heritage.

In the Basin particularly, we could use some more folks in the Cody area to step up, and help on that chapter. There is a lot we want to accomplish there, but as of right now, we have a small chapter,” Tarwater said.

He added the areas of Lovell and Worland/Thermopolis are great candidates for anyone interested in helping the NWTF build new chapters.

“The more volunteers we have equals more chapters, and stronger chapters. The stronger the local chapter is, the more impact they can have on wildlife conservation, and protecting our hunting heritage,” Tarwater said.


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