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National Wild Turkey Federation To Start Coeur d'Alene Chapter

The Idaho State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is looking to start a chapter in the Coeur d'Alene area. A public information meeting to discuss the formation of a local chapter has been scheduled for April 9 at 7 pm at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Panhandle Region Office. The office is located near the corner of Kathleen Ave and Ramsey Rd., across from the US Forest Service Tree Nursery. Everyone interested in the outdoors is encouraged to attend the meeting. Additional information can be obtained by calling Charles Henry, Idaho State Chapter President, at (208) 343-5732. The NWTF was founded in Edgefield, South Carolina in 1973 and is a national nonprofit conservation and education organization dedicated to conserving wild turkeys and preserving hunting opportunities and traditions. Education and outreach programs of the NWTF include a program called the JAKES (a "jake" is a young male turkey) which is a youth program that features hands on activities for youth as well as scholarship programs. Another program NWTF promotes is "Women in the Outdoors, a program that provides interactive outdoor learning opportunities for women 14 years of age and older. "Wheelin'Sportsman" is another program NWTF is involve with, which extends outdoor opportunities to all disabled individuals. The purpose of the upcoming meeting is to solicit volunteers interested is starting the new chapter. The NWTF is looking for families and individuals interested in outdoor activities, and in promoting and preserving Idaho's hunting heritage for future generations. Idaho's wild turkey hunting is increasing in popularity with each passing year, and wild turkey hunting is the fastest growing form of hunting in the United States. During the 2001 Idaho turkey seasons, hunters took home 4439 turkeys with a success rate of 31%. Wild turkeys are not native to Idaho. They were first introduced in the state in 1961 near Riggins. Hundreds of transplants have been conducted since then, involving birds from other states and birds trapped from thriving populations in Idaho. The first turkey hunt in Idaho was held in the fall of 1966. Both hens and toms could be harvested. Rifles were permitted in addition to the usual turkey hunting firearm, a shotgun. Following a few years of fall hunts, spring shotgun hunting for gobblers became the mainstay of turkey hunting. In 1998, Idaho had its first, modern day large fall turkey hunt. This was continued, and hunts will be available in many areas of the state this Fall. Fall hunts for turkeys have been expanded because turkey populations have expanded dramatically. Some landowners are reporting damage to crops and other property and are asking for bird numbers to be reduced. While birds can be trapped and moved, all quality habitat in Idaho is already stocked with birds. Transplanting birds to marginal habitat can result in poor survival of transplanted birds. Providing additional harvest opportunity, particularly when the birds are concentrated in the fall, is the best way to address these landowner concerns. If and when unfavorable winters reduce turkey numbers, fall hunting will be curtailed. If you are interested in the management of the wild turkey, I suggest you attend the meeting and become involved in establishing a local chapter of the NWTF. If you would like to learn more about the NWTF, they have one of the best wildlife oriented web sites I have ever seen. Check them out at http://www.nwtf.org.