Welcome to the website of the Minnesota State Chapter of the NWTF

Click the links at the top of the page to find your NWTF field staff and local chapter contacts and when and where to find your local NWTF events. You'll also find links to the National NWTF web site and other web sites that have interesting information for Minnesota sportsmen.

What is the NWTF

 The NWTF— a national nonprofit organization — is the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation in North America.

Founded in 1973, the NWTF is headquartered in Edgefield, S.C., and has local chapters in every state.

The NWTF is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage.

Through vital partnerships with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and our members have helped restore wild turkey populations throughout North America — from a mere 30,000 in the entire United States to more than 7 million across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. Initiative

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Hunting and habitat go hand-in-hand. We can't have quality hunting without quality wildlife habitat. And the past has proven we won't have sustainable wildlife habitat unless hunters are involved. Hunters pay for 80 percent of the budgets for state wildlife agencies, which drive the research and work to restore essential habitat for game and nongame species.

We could sit idle and watch fields go fallow and our hunting rights crumble, or we can begin saving our lifestyle now.

The NWTF isn't going to let it happen on our watch. That's why we launched the Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative. It's an aggressive charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and our devoted volunteers not only to keep the NWTF alive but also to give it more purpose than ever.

We're committed to raising $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential upland wildlife habitat, create at least 1.5 million new hunters and open access to 500,000 new acres for hunting, shooting and outdoor enjoyment.

It's an effort we must all stand behind to accomplish. Its success depends equally on unity and urgency. We must work together and we must do it now if we want to even begin to counteract the challenges to our lifestyle.

Hot Topic:  Bird Flu in Minnesota Turkeys

As you all are likely aware a deadly strain of bird flu (HPAI or H5N2) is decimating domestic turkey farms across Minnesota.  Impacted areas include Cottonwood, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lyon, Meeker, Nobles, Pope, Stearns and Watonwan counties.  So far 13 farms have been infected and over a million domestic turkeys killed to prevent further spread.  With the advent of the 2015 wild turkey hunting season I have received several inquiries about the threat to wild turkeys and to hunters.  Here is some information to share with our members and others.

Threat to Wild Birds:  HPAI appears to be carried by waterfowl, who do not get sick from it.  The virus has not been found in wild turkeys yet.  They are presumed to be highly susceptible to it if exposed, but it would be very unlikely to cause a widespread outbreak.  Domestic turkeys are confined in hot crowded barns that are perfect to transmitting a virus throughout the flock.  Wild birds are scattered across the landscape and are out in the open where transmission is less likely.  While it is breeding season and birds are interacting, they do so in relatively small groups so worst case would be a small local outbreak.  Also, when a wild animal becomes ill it is often killed by a predator in short order, thus removing the threat.  Nonetheless, the DNR is asking hunters to keep an eye out for dead birds in the field.

Threat to Humans:  The Minnesota Department of Health says there is a very low public health risk, and there is no food safety concern, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.  Only persons who have direct contact with infected birds are potentially at risk. People in contact with infected birds are monitored by MDH for 10 days to make sure they don’t become sick. It is also recommended for them to take antiviral medication.

Threat to Pets and Poultry:  HPAI is very contagious so if you have pet birds or poultry livestock you want to be very careful about not exposing them to dead turkeys.  DNR recommends cleaning birds in the field and cleaning knives, clothing, etc. very well before coming in contact with your birds.

Reporting Dead Birds:  DNR wildlife staff have been notified to be extra vigilant for sick or dead raptors (hawks, eagles, owls) and wild turkeys. They have received instructions on carcass handling if any are identified.

If you see a dead wild turkey or raptor or it appears sick (ruffled feathers, swollen wattles, discoloration of the feet and impaired balance), do not touch or move it to minimize any potential risk of unintentionally spreading the virus if the animal is infected.

Mark the location by GPS if possible and contact DNR with the coordinates. Contacts are: 

·         Wildlife Health Program Supervisor Michelle Carstensen at 612-390-9979

·         Wildlife Health Specialist Erik Hildebrand at 612-597-8141

·         Alternatively, you can contact your local area wildlife manager.

Protocols are in place to sample these birds if it's determined that HPAI may be the cause of mortality.  At this time, they are only looking for raptors and wild turkeys. They are not taking samples on other species of birds unless five or more are found dead in the same location.

MDH Recommended Precautions for Hunters:

In the field

  • Do not harvest or handle wild birds that are obviously sick or found dead.

  • Dress your game birds in the field whenever possible.

  • Use dedicated tools for cleaning game, whether in the field or at home. Do not use those tools around your poultry or pet birds.

  • Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning game.

  • Double bag the offal and feathers. Tie the inner bag, and be sure to take off your rubber gloves and leave them in the outer bag before tying it closed. Place the bag in a trash can that poultry and pet birds cannot access. This trash can should also be secure against access by children, pets or other animals.

  • Wash hands with soap and water immediately after handling game. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol wipes.

  • Wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water. Then, disinfect them. Do not eat, drink or smoke while cleaning game.

At home

  • If you clean a bird at home, keep a separate pair of shoes to wear only in your game cleaning area. If this is not possible, wear rubber footwear and clean/disinfect your shoes before entering or leaving the area.

  • Wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water. Then, disinfect them.

  • Avoid cross-contamination. Keep uncooked game in a separate container, away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

  • Cook game meat thoroughly. Poultry should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F to kill disease organisms and parasites.



For More Information

·         http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/avianinfluenza/index.html

·         http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/2015/fsc_hpai_hunters.pdf

·         http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/flu/current/h5n2.html

·         https://www.bah.state.mn.us/media/hpai-general-faq.pdf