History of the MWTHA

On 5/28/85 Tom Tighe and Maturen met with the new Wildlife Division chief, Ed Mikula, and John Urbain at the Mason building. We complimented John Urbain for providing the first quality spring hunt in years and requested that the hunt would be similar in future years. Even though our hens provided a lot of poults last spring, the population in Area K is another 400 to 500. We asked them what the problem is and they still have no answer, only guesses.

The State Chapter and Pere Marquette Chapters are in agreement that we should reinstate check-in stations (i.e. Missouri) to get a better fix on the kill. Presently the DNR does not know the ratio of young to old birds killed, the weight ratio, or if there is any disease factor among our isolated flocks. We still disagree with their mail survey over numbers killed. Much information can be obtained from a check station.

Again, we asked to return to a noon closing. As we are the only state in the northeast part of the USA that is having population loss, perhaps we should follow suit. Discussed past liberalization of rules, permits, and closing check stations which have an effect on people’s attitude. The bottom line is taking the Wild Turkey off the “something very special list'”. It is quite odd that the turkey population was doing quite well until liberalization began. We want the Wildlife Division to find out once and for all what is happening to our birds. Talk is cheap. We get the impression that if the northern Michigan birds succeed that the northern turkeys will be forgotten.

Our winter assistance program allows us to survey and count all of the Wild Turkeys in our 3000 square mile area. From our many contacts, we have found an acute poaching problem. Many flocks, especially those in areas of public land are being reduced by half or more during the fall hunting months. As an example, we may have 50 birds living in an area in early fall and at the end of the small game and especially firearms deer season there are less than 25.

On 5/28/85 Tom Tighe & Maturen met with Tom Washington, executive director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, at his office. Talked for over an hour about what our chapter is attempting to accomplish. Apparently, we do not see eye-to-eye on several issues and not sure if we can count on them for assistance.

On 5/31/85 I met with state representatives Sid Ouwinga of Marion. The outcome of the meeting was that he would introduce an amendment to include the Wild Turkey to the penalty law for unlawfully killing, possessing, etc. a bear or deer. The penalty would then be a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500, plus the cost of prosecution and imprisoned not less than 5 days nor more than 90 days. Shall not secure a deer, bear or Wild Turkey license for the current and 3 succeeding years. If we can get this passed, Michigan will be the only State to consider the Wild Turkey as big game.

Added notes for 1985: We have received a lot of publicity on our last two festivals from many newspapers. We have appeared on TV and have given numerous interviews to radio stations. Our Adopt-A-Turkey and winter assistance programs have generated many newspaper articles. Because of all the publicity, there are many more people in Michigan aware of our Wild Turkeys. Our goal of making our Wild Turkeys “something special” in Michigan is becoming a reality.

Note that in January 1985 the Grand Rapids Press carried an article that the Wildlife Division has a new program to survey winter flocks and to issue hunting permits based on populations. For the past several years we have presented this proposal to the Natural Resources Commission, in articles and letters to the editor, and at various meetings.

On 9/12/85 I made a presentation to the Natural Resources Commission at Higgins Lake. Pere Marquette Chapter members present were Gary Truxton, Tom Tighe, and Art Cocklin. We asked that the spring hunting permits remain the same for 1986, requested research of our depleted Wild Turkey population, and requested to return to a noon closing and to return to check in stations.

On 10/2/85 attended a meeting at the DNR Rose Lake Research Station near Lansing with biologist Steve Schmidt, John Urbain & the assistant chief of the Wildlife Division. Also present were Bruce Cocklin & Tom Tighe of the Pere Marquette Chapter, Hugh Marx & Craig Liddicoat of the state chapter and Birney Williams, president of the Huron Valley Chapter. The meeting was called by the DNR to discuss the possibility of researching our northern Michigan flocks. Hopefully, we are getting through that we are losing birds and that now something will be done. (Note: After the meeting, it was said that from now on the DNR would meet with us in the spring, perhaps twice with the local biologists present).