Raising Heritage Turkeys

  • John Harnois raises Narragansett turkeys, one of the so-called heritage breeds. He also raises a few Bourbon Reds, another heritage breed. (Photo by Rebecca Williams)

Eating turkeys to keep them from dying out…


This is the Environment Report. I’m Rebecca Williams.


In honor of Thanksgiving… we’re revisiting a Michigan farmer who raises heritage turkeys. Those are turkeys that have a little bit of a wilder history. Some farmers are trying to keep these older turkey breeds from going extinct.

Transcript

John Harnois has a yard full of turkeys. He says he knows his turkeys so well, he can speak their language.


“The turkeys pip, they bark, they gobble, (Harnois makes gobbling sound and turkeys respond in unison).”


These turkeys are mostly males. They’re trying to look all big and macho as they strut around in front of the hens. These birds are the Narragansett breed.


“They’re old time turkeys, much closer to wild. They don’t have the broad breasts, so proportionally for eating (turkeys gobble, Harnois laughs), they have more dark meat to white meat.”


People who’ve tasted a heritage turkey say the flavor is stronger too.


Sara Dickerman did some turkey taste testing for Slate.com. She tasted everything from the Butterball brand to kosher to heritage.


“When you taste one of these heritage breeds you’re getting more of a… it begins to taste more like a distinct meat and I’m afraid our vocabulary is so ill suited to describing it, except that it tastes meatier, it tastes more intensely and it just has a resonance that you’ll never get in a Butterball.”


She says, still, you’ve got to be pretty committed to buy a heritage turkey. They can cost upwards of a hundred bucks.


Taste and cost aren’t the only things that set heritage turkeys apart from the turkeys you find in the grocery store.


Your common grocery store turkey is a breed called the Broad-breasted White. These turkeys have been bred over the years to produce a lot of meat in a short period of time. As a result, they’re large breasted birds with short little legs.


John Harnois says that means they can’t mate naturally.


“One of the things about heritage birds is they’re small enough to mate as opposed to the broad-breasteds which is artificial insemination. With that big breast they just can’t do the deed.”


But even though heritage turkeys can mate naturally, they haven’t been doing so well on their own.


“These birds, the heritage breeds, were real close to dying out. It’s funny… you’ve gotta eat ‘em to keep ‘em going. To keep their genetics in the gene pool, there has to be a market for them.”


That’s where the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy stepped in. It’s a non-profit group trying to keep rare breeds from going extinct. Marjorie Bender is the group’s research manager. She says just three companies own the rights to the commercial turkey breeds.


“And they’re all very, very closely related and it’s that narrow genetic pool that has been of particular concern to us and what makes the conservation of these other lines of turkeys and these other varieties of turkeys so important.”


(gobbling)


John Harnois says he is earning money from his heritage turkeys, but it’s not easy money. Heritage turkeys cost a lot to raise, and it takes longer to get them to market weight. And unlike the commercial turkeys, the heritage birds can actually fly the coop.


“You’re chasing them, and it’s dark out, and you don’t know if you’re going through poison ivy, if you’ve got shorts on you’ve gotta change your pants to long pants… it’s a pain.”


But he says the late night chases and extra turkey TLC are worth it.


“You don’t want everything being the same, and if you only have one thing and something happens to it, there’s no more. Where are the turkeys going to come from?”


He says he feels like it’s his job to make sure there will always be plenty of different kinds of turkeys to go around.

Happy Thanksgiving!


That’s the Environment Report. I’m Rebecca Williams.

Trying for a Healthier Holiday

  • Linda Barberic's partner Keith helps her prepare a healthy meal, using olive oil instead of butter. (Photo by Julie Grant)

With so many Americans facing diabetes,
heart disease, and other health problems,
the Thanksgiving meal has become a battleground
in some families. Some family members want
to make it a healthy meal, others want to
stick with their traditional family dishes.
Julie Grant reports:

Transcript

With so many Americans facing diabetes,
heart disease, and other health problems,
the Thanksgiving meal has become a battleground
in some families. Some family members want
to make it a healthy meal, others want to
stick with their traditional family dishes.
Julie Grant reports:

Four years ago, Linda Barberic gave her left kidney to her sister. The surgery went well. But since then, there have been a lot of other health problems in the family.

“We’ve had a few strokes in the family, we’ve got diabetes, we’ve got high blood pressure, we’ve got some other heart conditions, a few heart attacks.”

That’s some serious stuff. Linda thinks a lot of it has to do with the way her family eats: lots of salt, fat and sweets. She is hosting everyone for Thanksgiving dinner. And thought this might be a good time to get them all on board with healthier eating.

So she sent out a mass email to the family.

“So I thought this year, why not give everyone a challenge and make it a healthy Thanksgiving. Really – no fats, no butters, no salts, no heavy creams.”

Linda even suggested some recipes: steamed green beans with lemon zest, fingerling potatoes roasted with fresh garlic and thyme.

The resounding response: No salt, no fat, no fun.

Someone even said they wouldn’t come. They wanted the turkey with gravy, green bean casserole with crispy onions on top, and Mom’s dumplings with lots of butter.

Her brother-in-law Matt Previte is one of those with a heart condition. He and Linda’s sister, Sandy Previte, appreciate Linda’s thought, but…

Matt: “For one meal, for one day, one special occasion – it’s not worth it.”

Sandy: “How often do we eat gravy? Twice a year. So I’m like, let’s do the traditional. Why not? Let’s just stick with what it’s about – people getting together to have good food.”

So Sandy says why not have the gravy, have the butter?
But her sister Linda says it’s not one or two days a year. Her family, like many, eats fatty, salty foods all the time.
That’s one big reason why two-thirds of American adults are considered overweight or obese. And diabetes has become an epidemic.

So, why do we keep going back for more – when we know it’s making us sick?
Linda Spurlock is director of human health at the Museum of Natural History in Cleveland.
She says we’re hard-wired to crave sugar, fat and salt.

“If you did not have the inherited yearning for fat or for sugar and grab it anytime you could get your hands on it, you probably would not live to reproduce back 2- or 3- million years ago.”

But while our ancestors had to smash open bones to get to the marrow – so they could get the fat they needed – we can just pull up to the drive through and order whatever we want to eat.

Spurlock says the original Thanksgiving meal was probably a small, lean turkey, squirrel, raccoon, and roasted root vegetables.

“And how it got bigger and bigger and bigger –
I have a feeling that it wasn’t until quite recently that people had the expectation of several kinds of pie for dessert and yes giblet gravy and mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.”

Spurlock says Americans can start eating healthier by training themselves to enjoy the simple taste of vegetables. But she says Thanksgiving probably isn’t the time for it.

Linda Barberic has come to the same conclusion.

“ I kind of just backed off on it. And said, ‘do what you’re going to do.’ Thanksgiving is about family. I’m grateful that everyone is healthy this year and everyone is here. So, I’m just grateful to have Thanksgiving. But, I have a feeling there will be some fat. (laughs)”

For The Environment Report, I’m Julie Grant.

Related Links

Getting More Out of Thanksgiving Dinner

  • A study by the University of Arizona estimates that the average household wastes about 14% of the food that’s bought (Photo by Rebecca Williams)

Thanksgiving is just around the
corner. A consumer expert says you can
avoid wasting a lot of food with just a
little planning. Lester Graham reports:

Transcript

Thanksgiving is just around the
corner. A consumer expert says you can
avoid wasting a lot of food with just a
little planning. Lester Graham reports:

A study by the University of Arizona estimates that the average household wastes about
14% of the food that’s bought. Some of it spoils. Some of it becomes leftovers that
never get eaten.

Bob Lilienfeld is the author of the Use Less Stuff Report. He says you can keep a
couple of things in mind. If food is left on the serving platter, it can be re-used. If it
makes it to your plate and it’s not eaten, it’s wasted.

He also says, on Thanksgiving, plan for leftovers.

“Think, when you buy turkey, ‘What else does my family like turkey. Oh, they like soup.
They like chili.’ Buy the ingredients for the next round when you buy the turkey so that
everything is sitting in your home the day after Thanksgiving, and you’re wondering,
‘Alright, what am I going to do with this bird?’”

And, Lilienfeld says, label and date your leftovers. You’re more likely to use them
before they go bad.

For The Environment Report, I’m Lester Graham.

Related Links

Trees as Odor-Eaters

  • Researchers at the University of Delaware have found that planting trees around poultry farms has many benefits (Photo courtesy of the USDA)

As suburbs are built closer to
farms, there are sometimes complaints
about the odors. Researchers are now
working to smooth things out between
farmers and their new neighbors. Jessi
Ziegler has the story on one
of the simple solutions they found:

Transcript

As suburbs are built closer to
farms, there are sometimes complaints
about the odors. Researchers are now
working to smooth things out between
farmers and their new neighbors. Jessi
Ziegler has the story on one
of the simple solutions they found:

If you’ve ever driven by a chicken farm, you know the
smell can get pretty bad.

So, imagine living by one, and smelling it every single day.

Well, researchers may have come up with a solution –
trees.

Planting a few rows of trees around a farm can do all sorts
of good.

They capture dust and ammonia. And they block noise
and odor.

Also, they make the farm look a lot prettier. Which,
researcher George Malone says, can make a big difference.

“There’s been other studies to indicate that attractive
farms, statistically, have less odor than unattractive farms.
Perception is reality of what we deal with.”

And the perception is, the better you think a farm looks,
the better you think it smells.

For The Environment Report, this is Jessi Ziegler.

Related Links

The 100 Mile Meal: A Homegrown Thanksgiving

  • Reporter Dustin Dwyer found all the ingredients for his Thanksgiving dinner within 100 miles of his house, including the turkey (poor thing). (Photo by Dustin Dwyer)

Thanksgiving is about family, friends, and ridiculous amounts of food. But the food we buy can have a big impact on the environment. And a lot more people are starting to look for local ingredients to put in their meals. One movement encourages people to get all their food from within 100 miles of their home. Dustin Dwyer tried to find out how practical that could be for his Thanksgiving feast:

Transcript

Thanksgiving is about family, friends, and ridiculous amounts of food. But the food we buy can have a big impact on the environment. And a lot more people are starting to look for local ingredients to put in their meals. One movement encourages people to get all their food from within 100 miles of their home. Dustin Dwyer tried to find out how practical that could be for his Thanksgiving feast:


I like to look at labels on my food. I don’t care so much about the nutritional info, I just want to know where it came from.


But there’s a problem with that. Even if I know where something is packaged, I still have no idea where the actual ingredients come from. I mean, where the heck do they make partially hydrogenated soybean oil?


I have no idea. And so, for one meal, for the most important meal of the year, I decided to try to get all my food, and all the ingredients in my food, from within 100 miles of my apartment in Southeast Michigan.


If you’re impressed by my ingenious and creative idea, don’t be. I stole it from someone else. Alisa Smith and her partner James MacKinnon were on a 100 mile diet for a year, and they’re writing a book about it. I called up Alisa for some help.


Dwyer: “So my wife and I are going to do the 100 mile Thanksgiving, and I want to ask some advice.”


Smith: “Oh, great! For doing a single meal you picked a very good time to do it because it’s the harvest bounty, so that makes life a lot easier.”


I’m thinking, excellent, this could be a piece of cake. But I’m worried about a few tough ingredients, such as salt. Alisa says salt is a problem for a lot of people.


“I think in the end, you probably will find that salt isn’t available. And not being able t o make it yourself you might just say ‘okay salt is going to be an exception for us.'”


Ok, fine, but I still wanted to make as few exceptions as possible. I’ve got to have a challenge here, somehow.


That said, our menu would be simple: just turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie. Turkey turned out to be easy.


“Roperti’s Turkey Farm.”


Christine Roperti has been living on her family’s turkey farm in suburban Detroit all her life. Farms like this one are getting crowded out more and more by suburban sprawl. There’s even a brand new subdivision next door to Christine’s place. There have been offers for her land too.


“Yeah, but I don’t want to go anywhere. I like the farm, and like raising my turkeys.”


I liked knowing that Christine actually enjoys this, and cares about it. It made me feel good. And that’s important, because I was also paying a lot more for her turkey than the store-bought stuff.


Anyway, I was flying high, and things were going really well. My list of exceptions was firming up, and it was mostly spices: salt plus all the spices for the pumpkin pie.


Then, while I was bragging at work about how I’d be able to get almost everything but salt for my local dinner, someone reminded me that there are actually salt mines under the city of Detroit.


Like a good journalist I looked into it, and ended up on the most absurd shopping trip of my life.


“Okay I’m headed over the Ambassador Bridge, going from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. They do have salt mines in Detroit, but they don’t sell that salt as food salt in the US, they only sell road salt. So in order to get food salt that’s made within a hundred miles of my house, I have to go to Canada.”


Because of some trade regulation I don’t understand, table salt from this mine can’t be commercially shipped into the US. So I ended up in a city I barely know, looking for a grocery store. I went into the first, and then the second without finding the right brand of salt. Then an hour or so later, in the third store…


“Finally! Windsor salt.”


So, I wasted a lot of fuel putting this dinner together. It’s probably still an improvement over what the Sierra Club says is an average two thousand miles of driving that goes into each ingredient for my usual dinner.


But here’s the thing: if all this local stuff is available, I think I should be able to get it at the grocery store down the street. I should probably let them know that, and let them know I’m willing to pay more for it. I mean, that’s better than driving to Canada for salt, anyway.


But making that happen would take a lot more effort, a lot more voting with my pocketbook, and a lot more than just checking labels.


For the Environment Report, I’m Dustin Dwyer.

Related Links

Nanotech Nervousness

  • Researchers are studying whether nano-sized material could purge bacteria from the digestive tracts of poultry. The bacteria doesn't harm chickens and turkeys, but it can make people sick. The hope is that using nanoparticles could reduce the use of antibiotics in poultry. (Photo courtesy of USDA)

Nanotechnology is the science of the very, very small. Scientists are
finding ways to shrink materials down to the scale of atoms. These
tiny particles show a lot of promise for better medicines, faster
computers and safer food. But Rebecca Williams reports some people are
worried about harmful effects nano-size particles might have on
people’s health and the environment:

Transcript

Nanotechnology is the science of the very, very small. Scientists are
finding ways to shrink materials down to the scale of atoms. These
tiny particles show a lot of promise for better medicines, faster
computers and safer food. But Rebecca Williams reports some people are
worried about harmful effects nano-size particles might have on
people’s health and the environment:


Life on the nano scale is so tiny it’s hard to imagine. It’s as small
as 1/100,000 of a human hair. It’s as tiny as the width of a strand of
DNA. A nanoparticle can be so small it can actually enter cells.


Nanoparticles are loved by scientists and entrepreneurs for the novel
things they can do at those tiny sizes. They act differently. They
can go where larger particles can’t.


Many companies already sell new products with nano properties. The
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies says there are almost 500 products
on the market that use nanotechnology.


Some of those products are starting to show up in the grocery store.


Jennifer Kuzma is with the Center for Science, Technology and Public
Policy at the University of Minnesota. She tracks nanotech
developments in food and agriculture. She says there are some edible
nano products on store shelves right now:


“One is a chocolate shake that is a nano emulsion of cocoa molecules so
you can deliver more flavor for less of the cocoa product.”


Kuzma says that’s just the beginning. She says hundreds more nano
products, including a lot of food products, are on their way to market.
In many cases, scientists are looking for solutions to food safety
problems.


For example, bacteria in the intestines of chickens and turkeys can
make people sick when poultry is undercooked. Right now farmers treat
their birds with antibiotics. But as bacteria are becoming resistant
to antibiotics, scientists are looking for other methods to fight the
bacteria.


Jeremy Tzeng is a research scientist at Clemson University. He’s part
of a team developing what he calls intelligent chicken feed.
Basically, chickens would be fed a nanomaterial that attaches to
molecules on the surface of the harmful bacteria. Then the bacteria
could be purged from the chicken along with fecal matter:


“If we use this physical purging, physical removal, we are not using
antibiotics so the chance of the microorganism becoming resistant to it
is really small.”


Tzeng says his research is still in its early stages. He says there
are a lot of safety tests he needs to run. They need to find out if
the nanomaterial is safe for chickens, and people who eat the chickens.
And they need to find out what happens if the nanomaterial is released
into wastewater.


“As a scientist I love to see my technology being used broadly and very
quickly being adopted. But I’m also concerned we must be cautious. I
don’t want to create a miracle drug and then later it becomes a problem
for the long term.”


There are big, open questions about just how safe nanoparticles are.


Researcher Jennifer Kuzma says there have been only a handful of known
toxicology studies done so far. She says nanoparticles might be more
reactive in the human body than larger particles:


“There’s several groups looking at the ability of nanoparticles to
damage, let’s say your lung tissue. Some of the manufactured or manmade nanoparticles are thought to have greater abilities to get into the
lungs, penetrate deeper and perhaps damage the cells in the lungs, in
the lung tissue.”


In some cases, it’s hard for the government to get information about new
nano products. Kuzma says companies tend to keep their own safety data
under lock and key:


“Some companies might send you the safety studies if you ask for them. Others may not
because they of course have interests in patenting the technology and
confidential business information.”


So the government doesn’t always know all that much about what’s
heading to market. Agencies are trying to figure out how – and even
whether – to regulate products of nanotechnology. Right now, there are
no special labeling requirements for nano products.


In the meantime, nanotechnology is turning into big business. Several
analysts predict that just three years from now, the nanotech food
market will be a 20 billion dollar industry.


For the Environment Report, I’m Rebecca Williams.

Related Links

The 100 Mile Meal: A Homegrown Thanksgiving

  • Reporter Dustin Dwyer found all the ingredients for his Thanksgiving dinner within 100 miles of his house, including the turkey (poor thing). (Photo by Dustin Dwyer)

Thanksgiving is about family, friends, and ridiculous amounts of food. But the food we buy can have a big impact on the environment, and a lot more people are starting to look for local ingredients to put in their meals. One movement encourages people to get all their food from within 100 miles of their home. Dustin Dwyer tried to find out how practical that could be for his Thanksgiving feast:

Transcript

Thanksgiving is about family, friends, and ridiculous amounts of food. But the food we buy can have a big impact on the environment. And a lot more people are starting to look for local ingredients to put in their meals. One movement encourages people to get all their food from within 100 miles of their home. Dustin Dwyer tried to find out how practical that could be for his Thanksgiving feast:


I like to look at labels on my food. I don’t care so much about the nutritional info, I just want to know where it came from.

But there’s a problem with that. Even if I know where something is packaged, I still have no idea where the actual ingredients come from. I mean, where the heck do they make partially hydrogenated soybean oil?

I have no idea. And so, for one meal, for the most important meal of the year, I decided to try to get all my food, and all the ingredients in my food, from within 100 miles of my apartment in Southeast Michigan.

If you’re impressed by my ingenious and creative idea, don’t be. I stole it from someone else. Alisa Smith and her partner James MacKinnon were on a 100 mile diet for a year, and they’re writing a book about it. I called up Alisa for some help.

Dwyer: “So my wife and I are going to do the 100 mile Thanksgiving, and I want to ask some advice.”


Smith: “Oh, great! For doing a single meal you picked a very good time to do it because it’s the harvest bounty, so that makes life a lot easier.”


I’m thinking, excellent, this could be a piece of cake. But I’m worried about a few tough ingredients, such as salt. Alisa says salt is a problem for a lot of people.


“I think in the end, you probably will find that salt isn’t available. And not being able t o make it yourself you might just say ‘okay salt is going to be an exception for us.'”


Ok, fine, but I still wanted to make as few exceptions as possible. I’ve got to have a challenge here, somehow.


That said, our menu would be simple: just turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie. Turkey turned out to be easy.


“Roperti’s Turkey Farm.”


Christine Roperti has been living on her family’s turkey farm in suburban Detroit all her life. Farms like this one are getting crowded out more and more by suburban sprawl. There’s even a brand new subdivision next door to Christine’s place. There have been offers for her land too.


“Yeah, but I don’t want to go anywhere. I like the farm, and like raising my turkeys.”


I liked knowing that Christine actually enjoys this, and cares about it. It made me feel good. And that’s important, because I was also paying a lot more for her turkey than the store-bought stuff.


Anyway, I was flying high, and things were going really well. My list of exceptions was firming up, and it was mostly spices: salt plus all the spices for the pumpkin pie.


Then, while I was bragging at work about how I’d be able to get almost everything but salt for my local dinner, someone reminded me that there are actually salt mines under the city of Detroit.


Like a good journalist I looked into it, and ended up on the most absurd shopping trip of my life.


“Okay I’m headed over the Ambassador Bridge, going from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. They do have salt mines in Detroit, but they don’t sell that salt as food salt in the US, they only sell road salt. So in order to get food salt that’s made within a hundred miles of my house, I have to go to Canada.”


Because of some trade regulation I don’t understand, table salt from this mine can’t be commercially shipped into the US. So I ended up in a city I barely know, looking for a grocery store. I went into the first, and then the second without finding the right brand of salt. Then an hour or so later, in the third store…


“Finally! Windsor salt.”


So, I wasted a lot of fuel putting this dinner together. It’s probably still an improvement over what the Sierra Club says is an average two thousand miles of driving that goes into each ingredient for my usual dinner.


But here’s the thing: if all this local stuff is available, I think I should be able to get it at the grocery store down the street. I should probably let them know that, and let them know I’m willing to pay more for it. I mean, that’s better than driving to Canada for salt, anyway.


But making that happen would take a lot more effort, a lot more voting with my pocketbook, and a lot more than just checking labels.


For the Environment Report, I’m Dustin Dwyer.

Related Links

Signing Up Landowners for Wildlife Corridors

  • Planting hazelnut, red oak and other native species will produce nuts and acorns that many different kinds of animals will eat. Migration corridors connecting larger natural areas are critical for many kinds of animals. (Photo by Lester Graham)

There is growing concern about the loss of wildlife habitat. For decades, development has been spreading into areas that were once home to many different kinds of animals. The land has been cleared or altered so that a lot of the food sources have disappeared. The government has tried to set aside some parks and preserves, but biologists say many species of wildlife need much more space. The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports that’s why more and more groups are approaching private landowners:

Transcript

There is growing concern about the loss of wildlife habitat. For decades
development has been spreading into areas that were once home to many
different kinds of animals. The land has been cleared or altered so that a
lot of the food sources have disappeared. The government has tried to
set aside some parks and preserves, but biologists say many species of
wildlife need much more space. The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports
that’s why more and more groups are approaching private landowners:


(Sound of tree planting)


Ed Harris is digging into the dirt with a dibble bar… a tree planting tool.


“We’re planting American hazelnut seedlings. They grow vigorously
and produce nuts in about five years for white tail deer, turkey, grouse,
and even black bear.”


Harris owns this piece of land. He and his wife Elaine are getting a little
help planting the hazelnuts. A couple of young guys from neighboring
property are here, and a couple of guys from a not-for-profit organization
called Conservation Resource Alliance are working too. Ed Harris says
he’s in a partnership with that group…


“We wanted to improve the wildlife habitat. That was one of our goals
and that was one of the reasons we got together with Conservation
Resource Alliance to enhance the area. You know, you hear of so much
development now and taking trees and cutting them and bulldozing. Do
we want to see the land in condominiums or rather see it in a natural
state? And that was an easy choice for us.”


But it’s not so easy for some other private land owners. It’s really
tempting to sell scenic land like this to developers who offer big bucks.


Those who don’t sell often want to improve the land for wildlife, but that
can be expensive. There are government programs… but, a lot of the
time private landowners are reluctant to sign up. They don’t like the
bureaucratic red tape… and some don’t like idea of a government agency
telling them what they can or cannot do with their own land.


Groups like the Conservation Resource Alliance – the CRA for short –
are aware of that reluctance and that’s why they approach landowners
carefully.


Jeff Brueker is with the CRA. He says they don’t come in with a plan…
they sit down with the landowner. He’s been working on a plan with Ed
Harris for a couple of years.


“And when we can meet with a landowner that has some of those same
goals in mind and we can come to an agreement on some of their goals
matching with our goals, then we’ll go into a partnership together and
work at that.”


The goals include keeping certain wildlife travel areas – especially along
streams – inviting to wildlife so animals such as black bears, otters and
bobcats can migrate from one large natural area to another.


Brueker says this approach works because his organization and the
landowner work together to make it happen… including spending days
like this… planting hazelnuts and American red oak trees that will
provide food for wildlife for years to come. Brueker says this kind of
effort will probably mean long term protection of the property…


“In other words, if we help a landowner plant a hundred oaks on his land,
he’s looking at those 20 years later, showing that to his heirs, saying
‘Look, I planted those trees; I’ve been watching how they’ve been
growing,’ it just helps leave a legacy on the land.”


But getting one landowner to establish better wildlife habitat is not
enough. These kinds of groups are trying to build larger wildlife
corridors. That means they want Ed Harris… and they want his
neighbors… and their neighbors… to establish a huge area of food and
habitat for wildlife.


Programs across the country go by a lot of different names. The CRA
calls its program “Wild Link.”


Jeff Brueker’s colleague, Matt Thomas, says it’s connecting the dots
between properties, and… getting the private landowners on board takes
time…


“It’s kind of a door-to-door, kitchen table sort of recruitment. We start
by literally knocking on doors, doing presentations to groups that can
maybe share that information. We rely heavily on neighbor-to-neighbor
contact, where one landowner is having some successes and some
excitement about participating with Wild Link, they’re inclined to tell
their neighbors that ‘Hey, the connections work, if you can participate
too.'”


Groups like the Conservation Resource Alliance note that working with
private landowners is a critical piece of the puzzle in restoring wildlife
habitat. Of the one-point-nine billion acres in the lower 48 states, one-
point-four billion is in private hands. That’s 72 percent… nearly three
out of every four acres on average. Without private landowners lending
a hand… habitat for wildlife would be limited to isolated pockets in
government owned parks.


For the GLRC, this is Lester Graham.

Related Links

Robo-Turkey Snatches Poachers

Poaching is an age-old problem for state game wardens and other conservation workers. Officials have tried a variety of methods to catch people hunting illegally. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Michael Leland tells us in one state, officials are taking a somewhat unusual approach. They’re getting help from a new robotic turkey:

Transcript

Poaching is an age-old problem for state game wardens and other conservation workers.
Officials have tried a variety of methods to catch people hunting illegally. The Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Michael Leland tells us in one state, officials are taking a somewhat unusual
approach. They’re getting help from a new robotic turkey:


It looks real enough. In fact, the so-called Robo-Turkey is an eastern tom turkey prepared by a
taxidermist, who put moving parts from a model airplane inside. Officers from Michigan’s
Department of Natural Resources control the bird from up to 100-yards away. Lieutenant Dave
Davis says they use it to catch people hunting out-of-season, trespassing, or shooting birds from
their vehicles.


“We’ll set up the decoy where the problem is, then we will do surveillance on it. We don’t just
leave it there unattended. Somebody’s gotta be watching it. Then we’ll wait for somebody to come
and shoot it, basically. It’s not rocket science.”


A local chapter of the National Wildlife Turkey Federation donated this bird, which is one of
several in use across Northern Michigan. The decoys have led to charges against a few poachers
this year, who can face up to $500 in fines. Lieutenant Davis says poachers who shoot the Robo-
Turkey get off easy. Shooting a real turkey illegally can mean a $1,500 fine and five days in jail.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Michael Leland.