Turkey may be the star of Thanksgiving meals throughout the Granite State, but the wild turkey has become a focal point of new conservation efforts in Congress.
Wild turkeys disappeared from New Hampshire 150 years ago due to habitat loss and overhunting, but the birds were transplanted back in the mid-1970s, and now their population is more than 25,000.
John Kanter, senior biologist for the National Wildlife Federation, said Congress could provide similar protections to other species, by passing the “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.”
“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 noted the bill would provide states and tribes with $1.4 billion annually to help save about 12,000 animal and plant species now at risk, and offer protections like those which saved the wild turkey from extinction.
Wild turkeys can now be found in every county in New Hampshire, although severe winters and lack of suitable habitat have limited their population in the northernmost part of the state. Restored habitats have allowed the wild turkey to thrive.
Kanter pointed out the legislation would re-create the model which protected turkeys, and apply it to other species, from monarchs to meadowlarks.
“A third of species — known plants and animals in the U.S. — are at increased risk of extinction,” Kanter emphasized. “It’s time for us to address this biodiversity crisis, and let’s get ahead of it.”
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act passed the U.S. House in June, but awaits Senate approval. More than 40 senators are on board, including Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheem, D-N.H. Kanter hopes lawmakers act quickly to pass what he said would be the “biggest win for wildlife in half a century.”
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This story was written by Kathryn Carley, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.