DNR has a new turkey program manager — who knew?

One of the more high profile jobs inside the Illinois DNRs Division of Wildlife has been vacant more often than its been filled over the past decade. But a new wild turkey program manager is in place, we have learned quite by accident.

Luke Garver began the job late last year, filling a role that had been vacant since Paul Brewer retired at the end of 2013. Brewer had taken the job in June of 2010 – after it had been vacant for the eight years previous. DNR apparently didn’t think it was important to publicly announce that the job had been filled. Illinois Outdoor News found out about the appointment while trying to put together a preview of the spring turkey season.

We now know the 33-year-old Garver is in place. Paul Shelton, DNR’s forest wildlife program manager, filled in as the turkey point man, in addition to handling his other duties.

“In the absence of a turkey project leader, we were only able to do the ‘bare-bones’ things required to keep the program and our turkey hunting seasons running,” said Mark Alessi, DNR’s wildlife chief. “Data analyses and population monitoring suffered, and program efforts to improve turkey habitat were set aside. Having a turkey project leader enables coordination with the National Wild Turkey Federation and other partners to fund and implement habitat management projects, to oversee wild turkey research projects, to evaluate turkey population data, and to catch up the backlog of status reports that need to be completed.”

All those things are now Garver’s responsibility. He also assists with a number of other Forest Wildlife Program functions for species other than turkey.

Learn more about Garver and goals for the turkey program in the April 7 issue of Illinois Outdoor News.

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