Conservation spotlight

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April 13th, 2006

Conservation spotlight
National Wild Turkey Federation, Arizona Chapter
By Bernardo P. Velasco, state chapter president

How did your group get started? The National Wild Turkey Federation started in 1973 at a time when there were only about 1.3 million wild turkeys in the entire United States (today there are about 7 million). This was particularly alarming to many turkey hunters nationally, who decided to take action. The current state chapter of the NWTF was started in 1993 by Judge Richard Fields, at that time a practicing lawyer in Tucson, Ariz. The state currently has 12 active chapters, with at least two or three more coming on board this year.

What is NWTF’s purpose? The NWTF works toward the conservation of wildlife and the preservation of hunting. As such, the organization works in partnership with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to transplant Merriam’s wild turkeys within the state and relocate Gould’s wild turkeys within the state and from Mexico. There are now Gould’s in the following mountain ranges: Huachucas, Chiricahuas, Catalinas, Pinalenos, Galiuros and Santa Ritas. These populations appear to be thriving, and with a little luck and a lot of rain, hunting may soon be upon us. The organization is also actively involved in Guzzlers for Gobblers, which provides water development projects to help turkeys and other wildlife have sustainable access to water.

How many members do you have? There are now 500,000 members throughout the country. The state of Arizona has about 1,000 members. This number will increase as new chapters are formed in Prescott and Cottonwood, Ariz.

What else does NWTF do? The NWTF also sponsors events such as Women in the Outdoors, Wheeling Sportsmen (disabled hunters), and JAKES (youth) activities. Individual chapters throughout the state do charitable work by distributing turkeys on Thanksgiving Day and gifts at Christmas to the less fortunate.

While the conservation spotlight is shining on NWTF, what would you like to say? My message to the hunting public is, “Join the NWTF.” We rank third in the nation for using monies raised for the express purpose they were donated.

How can people reach you? The Web site for the NWTF is www.nwtf.org. Arizona chapter information can be accessed from that Web site. The current state chapter president is Bernardo P. Velasco. You can contact him at (520) 205-4630 (work) or (520) 982-5457 (cell). The regional director is Jim Warren, who can be reached at (520) 237-5824.

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