Contact(s): Rick Horton, NWTF regional biologist, 218-326-8800; Mark Witecha, DNR, 608-267-7861
February 1, 2016
MADISON- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Sara Kehrli and warden Benjamin Herzfeldt were named the National Wild Turkey Federation's 2015 wildlife manager and conservation officer of the year at the Wisconsin State Chapter convention on Jan. 30 in Wisconsin Dells.
NWTF wildlife manager of the year
Kehrli has served as the wildlife manager for Columbia County for nearly nine years. Her work covers multiple aspects of habitat management, including wetland restorations, woodland improvements, prairie and oak savanna restorations and invasive species control. Outside of work, Kehrli enjoys spending time outdoors volunteering for the NWTF Glacial Valley Gobblers chapter and serving as a mentor for new hunters through local Learn to Hunt events.
Rick Horton, NWTF regional wildlife biologist, said of Kehrli, "She is very attuned to wild turkey habitat requirements in her work area and actively seeks out partners and outside funding to improve the prairies, savannas and woodlands on her Wildlife Areas. Her success can be attributed to a firm understanding of wild turkey habitat needs as well as the goals and desires of the NWTF."
Since 2011, Kehrli has successfully applied for NWTF Superfund money for five projects with NWTF contributions totaling $19,300. She was able to match these funds with $79,815 to improve 2,163 acres of key habitat for turkeys and other wildlife. Kehrli has also successfully secured habitat management funding from the state Wild Turkey Stamp account.
The ongoing oak savanna restoration at Pine Island Wildlife Area, which has received national attention, exemplifies the results of this funding. Pine Island is home to one of the most intact swamp white oak savannas in Wisconsin. Following tornado damage to nearby wooded areas in 2006, Kehrli and her team began efforts to convert this land to oak savanna across seven different units totaling over 1,000 acres - wildlife in the area is already reaping the benefits these efforts.
NWTF conservation officer of the year
Herzfeldt began his career with the department in 2006, and has been stationed at the Schofield station in Marathon County since January 2008. During his tenure, he has worked hard to build a solid, well-rounded conservation enforcement program that balances public involvement, community education and outreach, agency cooperation, and enforcement.
Herzfeldt is very involved in outdoor education, specifically through providing hunting opportunities for inexperienced hunters and youth. He also works with the Sporting Heritage Youth Day program to provide opportunities for youth to learn more about the outdoors. To learn more about Learn to Hunt opportunities, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "Learn to Hunt."
Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt
The federation's Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt [EXIT DNR] initiative is aimed at conserving and enhancing 220,000 acres of habitat, recruiting new 35,000 hunters, and providing recreational public access to 15,000 acres of land in Wisconsin. NWTF relies upon good working relationships with Kehrli, Herzfeldt, and many others to meet these objectives.
Horton adds, "We simply could not do it without the excellent partnership we have cultivated with DNR staff."
To learn more about turkey hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "turkey."