By Beth B. on Care2.com
Did you know that Benjamin Franklin advocated the wild turkey, and not the bald eagle as the national bird of the United States?
In a letter to his daughter Franklin remarked, "For my own part, I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the representative of our country...For the truth the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America... he is besides, though a little vain & silly, a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.
Despite this fond opinion of the wild turkey, the bird was hunted into near extinction, and it is only thanks to the hard work of conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation that its number have increased from just over one million in 1973, to over 7 million today.
Although the NWTF also advocates the responsible hunting and consumption of the wild turkey, it's most important success has come through partnerships with landowners and businesses that have the power to protect habitats that are important to all types of wildlife in North America.
Recently it was announced that the NWTF has formed a strategic partnership with American Electric Power, one of the countries largest suppliers of electric power. AEP is the newest member of the Energy for Wildlife program, which means they will work cooperatively to identify, develop and implement programs to enhance the environment and habitat for a number of wildlife species on AEP-owned lands.
NWTF's Energy for Wildlife program helps utilities manage rights of way and other properties to provide ideal habitat for a variety of wildlife species, including wild turkeys, that are at risk from loss of open habitat. The Energy for Wildlife staff works directly with utility companies to develop and implement wildlife management and educational programs.
"Energy companies who enroll in Energy for Wildlife are not only helping to meet America's energy needs, but the needs of its wildlife as well," said James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D., NWTF's chief conservation officer. "Through the program, American Electric Power and the NWTF are helping to protect and enhance a diverse array of wildlife habitat nationwide."
No matter whether you will be feasting on locally raised, organic turkey this holiday, or granting a grateful turkey pardon by filling your belly with delicious vegetables instead, take a moment to think about the wild turkey, and all the other animal species that make our country special.
Americans have so much to be thankful for, but action, as well as strong words, are needed to ensure that these things are not lost due to negligence and greed.