Wild Turkeys: A Blueprint for SD's Threatened Species
Monday, November 28, 2022
Wildlife advocates want more species to have the same shot at the type of recovery wild turkeys experienced. The game birds were once hunted to near-extinction.
There were no wild turkeys in much of the upper Midwest for much of the last century but today, there are enough for South Dakotans to hunt them in the spring and fall. Nationwide, roughly 7 million turkeys roam free.
Conservation groups are asking Congress to provide similar protections to other species, by passing the "Recovering America's Wildlife Act."
John Kanter, senior biologist for the National Wildlife Federation, said the protections would also extend to habitat restoration.
"What we're doing here is using this tremendous conservation success story as a springboard to talk about the next generation of conservation success stories," Kanter explained.
Kanter pointed out the Act would expand the success stories to protect the whooping crane, black-footed ferret and the pallid sturgeon, all of which are endangered. It would devote $1.4 billion to protect species and habitats nationally.
The Recovering America's Wildlife Act also would allow states to focus on controlling invasive species and addressing wildlife diseases in their own backyards. Kanter noted the funds would go directly to states and tribes, to help protect those fish, wildlife and plants for future generations.
"A third of species -- known plants and animals in the U.S. -- are at increased risk of extinction, and it's time for us to address this biodiversity crisis, and let's get ahead of it," Kanter urged.
The bill passed the U.S. House in June, but is waiting on a Senate vote. A bipartisan group of more than 40 senators is on board, although neither from South Dakota.
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