Conservation News

MassWildlife’s Tisa Receives National Recognition from the NWTF

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — The National Wild Turkey Federation honored MassWildlife Director Mark S. Tisa with its new Innovation Award for the agency’s exceptionally creative strategies and novel approaches that encouraged positive impacts to conservation, outreach and education.

“I am honored to receive NWTF’s Innovation Award,” Tisa said. “With shared goals for R3 and upland habitat conservation, MassWildlife and NWTF are natural partners. MassWildlife and NWTF continue to grow our important partnership, collaborating on mentorship and learn to hunt programs, as well as habitat and access improvement projects. Through sound wildlife management and the support of conservation partners like NWTF, MassWildlife is proud to continue expanding turkey hunting opportunities in Massachusetts by increasing the annual bag limit, expanding opportunities for youth, and extending the fall season in recent years.”

Tisa accepted the Innovation Award during the NWTF’s 50th anniversary celebration at its 47th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show, sponsored by Mossy Oak.

In partnership with MassWildlife, under Tisa’s leadership, the NWTF Massachusetts State Chapter made notable conservation and hunting heritage accomplishments. This partnership wouldn’t be possible without Tisa’s guidance and the outstanding NWTF volunteers in Massachusetts. Together they have used creative strategies to tackle conservation issues and the decline in hunters. 

MassWildlife has proposed and implemented multiple regulation changes that have significantly increased hunting opportunities and hunter satisfaction while reducing regulatory complexity, including:

  • Increased annual turkey season limit from two to three birds to incentivize participation in the fall hunting season.
  • Expanded archery-only fall turkey season to create more overlap with the fall archery deer season.
  • Eliminating smaller shot size restrictions to allow hunters to take advantage of the new advances in heavier-than-lead ammunition, such as TSS.
  • Creating a late-season pheasant and quail season so hunters can pursue any previously stocked unharvested birds through Dec. 31.
  • Simplified and standardized rules and regulations across WMAs during pheasant and deer seasons.
  • Extended and simplified small game seasons for hare, cottontail and gray squirrel.
  • With Tisa’s support, MassWildlife is a critical partner to NWTF and Ruffed Grouse Society on the USDA Forest Service’s Landscape Scale Restoration grant that seeks to improve forest health on approximately 2,000 acres of public and private forestlands in western Massachusetts.
  • Successful implementation of a license/permit fee increase package (the first in 25 years) that helped the agency remain solvent and avoid reducing staff and services.  Notably, Tisa made a concerted effort to work with the sporting community to find, comprise and identify a process where fees would gradually increase over a 5-year period.

Additionally, Tisa andMassWildlife have been a strong partner with the NWTF on programs targeting both youth and adult hunters. For instance, the Massachusetts Young Adult Turkey Hunting Program is a collaboration between MassWildlife, the NWTF Massachusetts State Chapter and participating sportsmen’s clubs, that provides training and instruction on turkey hunting, as well as providing the opportunity for participating youth to experience a mentored spring turkey hunt on youth hunting day. Over 1,000 youth have gone through this program since 2009. Tisa was a key figure in getting this program off the ground.

“We are proud to present Director Tisa with the Innovation Award,” NWTF co-CEO Kurt Dyroff said. “To say the director utilized an innovative approach to conservation and hunter recruitment would be an understatement. Director Tisa has gone above and beyond to ensure both turkeys and turkey hunting are alive and well in the Bay State.”

About the National Wild Turkey Federation

Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale.

2023 is the NWTF’s 50 th anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization’s mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50 th anniversary, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and NWTF’s people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future.  Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.

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