EDGEFIELD, S.C.—The National Wild Turkey Federation presented Jason Mitchell, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife biologist, with the Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of Year Award, for his outstanding management of wild turkeys and wildlife habitat management.
“I am humbled and honored to be selected to receive this award,” Mitchell said. “I honestly have to say that, to me, it reflects the teamwork and commitment of my coworkers, as well as the outstanding partnership, support and cooperation from the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Ouachita National Forest. Since I was 13 years old, I have had an obsession for wild turkeys, and I have been blessed with the opportunity to assist with research and habitat management projects to sustain our populations for current and future generations of sportsmen.”
Mitchell was recognized with the Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of the Year Award at the 46th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show, sponsored by Mossy Oak.
The NWTF named the Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of the Year Award after the former Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife chief for his leadership and the vital role he played in improving wildlife management efforts. Kurz also was a principal figure in wild turkey trap-and-transfer programs across North America.
This award recognizes a current employee of a state fish, wildlife or forestry agency for their outstanding wild turkey conservation efforts.
Mitchell has worked for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for 20 years and is currently a wildlife biologist in AGFC’s Wildlife Management Division responsible for assisting the USDA Forest Service in managing wildlife on Caney Creek and Muddy Creek WMAs in the Ouachita National Forest.
Since 2016, Mitchell has assisted the AGFC Turkey Program on a research project to assess the harvest rates and survival of adult and juvenile male wild turkeys following the implementation of the no-jake harvest regulation in 2011.
Moreover, Mitchell took it upon himself to collaborate with NWTF district biologists in Arkansas to identify additional avenues for improving wild turkey habitat on Muddy Creek WMA. These efforts were rewarded with a cooperative stewardship agreement signed by the Forest Service in 2018 to improve approximately 4,000 acres within the WMA boundary through forest management techniques.
“Jason is an accomplished wildlife manager and a dedicated conservationist,” NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said. “This is evident in his work with the AGFC and his collaboration with the NWTF. We are proud to present him the NWTF Wildlife Manager of the Year Award.”
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. Today, the NWTF is focused on the future of hunting and conservation through its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative. Since 2012, this 10-year initiative has already eclipsed goals of conserving or enhancing more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruiting or retaining more than 1.5 million hunters and opening access to more than 500,000 acres for hunting and other recreation opportunities. This critical work will continue to impact wildlife habitat and our great outdoors in the final years of the initiative.