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While hunting is on our mind the whole year through, America has their hearts set on the hunt of a specific game this time of year – the turkey.

According to the National Turkey Federation, nearly 88 percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving. With nearly 312 million residents, that is a heck of a lot of turkey being gobbled up. How much exactly? Well, at an average weight of 16 pounds, turkeys purchased and consumed in the United States during Thanksgiving in 2011 added up to approximately 736 million pounds of turkey.

While to some it may seem as though America is a turkey-hungry, gluttonous country this time of year, we are conversely very pro-turkey conservation.

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) can attest to that fact, as they are just as active with giving back as they are with the sport of hunting the bird, having administered (along with their state chapters and the wildlife agencies in each state) the Hunting Heritage State Super Fund Projects. According to NWTF.org, the Super Fund Projects are, “projects that support the conservation of the wild turkey and preservation of the hunting tradition.”

Gathering statistical information about the amount of money and effort each state has put toward the Hunting Heritage State Super Fund Projects in the form of habitat enhancement, turkey restoration, research and more, the NWTF is true to their motto: Conserve. Hunt. Share.

In New Mexico alone, over $376,310 has been raised and spent on projects relating to the Super Funds Projects since 1985. Over half of that money has been used solely toward wild turkey habitat enhancement in New Mexico.

Another interesting fact to consider is that in the early 1900s the wild turkey population was steadily declining with a possible threat of extinction, primarily due to hunting efforts and habitat destruction. Now, there is an approximate 7 million wild turkeys roaming the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Thanks to the continued restoration efforts across the country, the NWTF rightfully boasts within the North American Wild Turkey Management Plan that, “The comeback of wild turkeys in North America is arguably the greatest conservation success story in history.”

Ultimately, with Christmas approaching and Thanksgiving just passed, ‘tis the season to give thanks for many things, including the conservation of our beautiful wildlife and the animals within it. If it weren’t for the continued efforts of wildlife enthusiasts throughout the world, we would not be able to hold onto the valued hunting tradition we are able to continue and share to this day.

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