Get Ready: Upcoming Event Celebrates 50 Years of Turkey Conservation!

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — Join the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for a celebration of the NWTF’s 50-year Anniversary and the restoration of the wild turkey in the Land of 10,000 Lakes on July 22 in Caledonia (where wild turkeys were first reintroduced in Minnesota in the 1970s).

“We are beyond excited to gather all of our partners, volunteers and major donors from across the state to celebrate one of America’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories, both across the nation and here in Minnesota,” said Tom Glines, NWTF director of development. “We are going to pack 50 years of excitement and fun into one action-packed day in Caledonia. We hope you can join us!”  

Outdoor industry brands, MNDNR, Minnesota’s hunter-conservationists and NWTF chapters from across the state will gather in Caledonia’s North Park At 2 p.m. to dedicate three bronze cairns that will commemorate the incredible restoration of the wild turkey in Minnesota and all of those who made it possible.

The event will kick off with a welcome address from Caledonia Mayor Dwayne “Tank” Schroeder, a member of the NWTF Houston County Chapter since the chapter’s inception in 1984.

NWTF Minnesota State Chapter President Linden Anderson will also address the crowd and discuss the restoration efforts that he was directly involved in during the ’80s and ’90s.

At around 3 p.m., attendees will walk to the nearby Four Season’s Community Center for a meet-and-greet reception. Cake and refreshments will be provided during this social event while attendees talk turkey and swap stories about the last 50 years of wild turkey conservation.

After the reception, former wild turkey trappers directly involved in Minnesota’s restoration efforts will reenact how wild turkeys were trapped and translocated. They will also provide a discussion on the nuances of trapping and relocating wild turkeys.

In the evening, a 50th Anniversary Blowout Gun Blast fundraising event will be held.

For more information on this celebratory event, contact Glines at or (612) 810-7704.

Historically, Minnesota was the northern edge of the wild turkey range. Birds occurred in limited numbers in the southern part of the state. By the turn of the 20th century, unregulated hunting, urban development and numerous other factors completely extirpated the birds from the state.

First attempts to reestablish wild turkey populations began in 1926 using game-farm birds. These releases failed, as did later attempts involving pen-reared birds; the half-domesticated, half-wild turkeys were not as robust as their purely wild counterparts.

However, right around the NWTF’s inception in the early ’70s, state wildlife agencies across the country were beginning to trap wild turkeys in areas with strong populations and move them to areas devoid of wild turkeys. MNDNR utilized this innovative approach and released 29 wild turkeys from Missouri in the winter of 1972-73. Those releases took place in Houston County where this summer’s anniversary celebration will take place.

Over the next 50 years, the MNDNR, the NWTF and NWTF chapters in Minnesota collaborated on relocating wild turkeys, as well as creating wild turkey habitat, across the state. The result is over 70,000 turkeys throughout Minnesota and the opportunity to hunt wild turkeys during the allowed seasons.

About the National Wild Turkey Federation

Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale.

2023 is the NWTF’s 50 th anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization’s mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50 th anniversary, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and NWTF’s people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future.  Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.

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