Managing habitat for wild turkey not only helps turkey populations, but it also provides good habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Habitat conservation is the cornerstone for the the conservation of wildlife, and wild turkey are no different. So how can you improve habitat in your area and increase turkey habitat? Well, the Wild Turkey Country Habitat Conservation Program is designed to help private landowners, industry partners and wildlife agencies conserve turkey habitat and improve turkey hunting opportunities.
For hunters in the United States and Canada, the fear of losing hunting land to development is very real. Every day we read about new housing or industrial developments springing up in undeveloped areas. But there is good reason to fear because did you know that wildlife habitat is being converted at the astounding rate of 9 square miles per day?
To conserve wild turkeys and preserve our turkey hunting heritage, there has to be land where wild turkeys and other wildlife can thrive and where sportsmen can hunt. An National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) habitat conservation program, Wild Turkey Country, is helping protect this land. Through this program, land can be managed for turkey and their required habitat through sound turkey management techniques.
There are three main ways Wild Turkey Country protects wildlife habitat, and the first is through conservation easements. This is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization in which the landowner agrees to restrict the type and amount of development that may take place on their property. Conservation easements can provide substantial tax breaks for private landowners.
The second way to help is through land donation, and this is either a gift of land or real estate from either corporations or private individuals. If the gifted land is not wildlife habitat, the NWTF will sell it and use the proceeds to protect critical wildlife habitat elsewhere. If the land does provide quality habitat, the NWTF may convey it to an appropriate wildlife agency or resell the property with a conservation easement in place.
Finally, similar to direct land donation is what is called a bargain sale. A bargain sale is a combination of a purchase and a property donation. The NWTF pays a landowner a percentage of the value of the property and the landowner then donates the remaining value to the NWTF. The donated value may be considered a charitable contribution and is tax deductible.
The program works directly with NWTF chapters, agency partners and industry partners to protect wildlife habitat and to acquire, from willing sellers of course, land for public use. Wild Turkey Country also works directly with private landowners to protect property from development through conservation easements. These easements can protect valuable wildlife and turkey habitat from development, while allowing wildlife and turkey hunting to continue. For more information on donating a conservation easement or on the NWTF’s Wild Turkey Country program, call 800-THE-NWTF. Best of luck with your turkey habitat conservation!