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North Dakota’s Wild Turkeys Endangered Species Success Story / Public News Service

Wildlife advocates want more species to have an equal chance at the kind of recovery wild turkeys have experienced.

Birds were once hunted to extinction. For much of the last century, wild turkeys did not exist in much of the upper Midwest, but today there are enough for North Dakota residents to hunt in the spring. Around 7 million wild turkeys roam free nationwide.

Conservation groups are asking Congress to grant similar protections to other species by passing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

John Kanter, chief biologist for the National Wildlife Federation, said protection would also extend to habitat restoration.

“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 said.

Kanter noted that the law would expand the success stories to protect the whooping crane, black-footed ferret and pale sturgeon, all of which are endangered. It would spend $1.4 billion on national species and habitat protection.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would also allow states to focus on controlling invasive species and fighting wildlife diseases in their own backyards.

Kanter noted that funds would go directly to states and tribes to protect these fish, wildlife and plants for future generations.

“One-third of species — known plants and animals in the US — are at increased risk of extinction, and it’s time for us to address this biodiversity crisis and get ahead of it,” Kanter said.

The bill passed the US House of Representatives in June but awaits a Senate vote. More than 40 senators are on board, including 16 Republicans. Sen. Kevin Cramer, RN.D. signed up to support.

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