The inaugural Arkansas Turkey Stamp is now available to order through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s online licensing system at www.agfc.com. Conservation-minded individuals may also order the stamp at any license dealer, regional office or AGFC nature center. The stamp is not required to hunt turkeys in the state of Arkansas, but was created to give conservationists and turkey enthusiasts a way to help support conservation efforts for the species.
The creation of the stamp was suggested by Commission Chairman Ken Reeves of Harrison, and was passed by unanimous vote during the Commission’s October 2019 meeting.
The limited-edition stamps will sell for $9.50 each, with only 20,000 produced in the first year.
“If we sell out, the stamp should generate between $140,000 and $150,000 after expenses to put toward added turkey habitat work in Arkansas,” Jeremy Wood, Turkey Program Coordinator for the AGFC, said. “We hope to couple this money with National Wild Turkey Federation Superfund grants to really help improve turkey habitat on public land.”
Wood says the stamp also offers an ideal backdrop to highlight the benefits of prescribed fire, one of the more controversial topics in wild turkey management. The first three stamps will illustrate scenes from a single segment of forest through the many life stages of turkeys and how the birds benefit from the habitat created by prescribed fire. The first shows a hen and gobbler together in an area that was burned only a month prior.
“Many people think the fire runs off wildlife, but research conducted by Dr. Michael Chamberlain at the University of Georgia actually shows almost 70 percent of turkeys will use a recently burned area within a couple days if available,” Wood said. “They will take advantage of the insects and forage revealed by the removal of leaves and decaying matter exposed by the fire. This is always hard to explain to turkey hunters, but the benefits of the fire far outweigh any negatives that may be seen.”
Wood says the next stamp will depict the brood-rearing habitat that is created by the fire, and the third will show the same area a year or two post-treatment when the habitat has grown tall enough to become excellent nesting cover.
The artwork for the first turkey stamp was completed by Greta James, the AGFC graphic artist who has provided striking illustrations for the Bobwhite Conservation Stamp, the last four AGFC Conservation License Plates and the AGFC’s bimonthly Arkansas Wildlife magazine.