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A wild turkey is the latest animal to be featured on Minnesota's specialty license plates

There's another option for Minnesota motorists looking to help conservation in the state.

There's another option for Minnesota motorists looking to help conservation in the state.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced last week a new wild turkey critical habitat license plate (see below). Motorists who buy a critical habitat license plate pay a $10 initial fee, plus a minimum annual contribution of $30.

That money goes into the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program, and the sale of these license plates have generated more than $59 million to acquire or preserve 22,000 acres of critical habitat, as well as help fun non-game wildlife research efforts, according to the DNR's website

This is the ninth critical habitat license plate to be offered. The others: a moose, loon, pheasant, chickadee, showy lady's slipper, a fishing scene, and two plates have white-tailed deer. There's also a specialty license plate for state parks and trails, which was released over the summer.

The Star Tribune says more than 185,000 critical habitat license plates were on the roads at the end of 2015.

Wild turkeys in Minnesota

Wild turkeys are one one of Minnesota's "great conservation success stories," Kim Hennings, wildlife land acquisition coordinator at the DNR, said in the release.

They're native to southeastern Minnesota, but disappeared by 1880 because of habitat loss and unregulated hunting, according to the DNR. Wildlife officials began reintroducing the bird to the state back in the 1970s, and now they're living over a wide range of southern and central Minnesota.

There are now more than 30,000 wild turkeys living in Minnesota, the DNR says. You can usually spot them traveling in flocks in wooded areas next to farm fields and pastures.

Hunting wild turkeys is legal in Minnesota, and the DNR says the fall and spring hunting seasons have become very popular. The agency notes hunting is regulated to make sure the population continues to grow.

“The wild turkey critical habitat plate has been long awaited for by our membership in Minnesota and turkey hunting enthusiasts,” Tom Glines, National Wild Turkey Federation regional director, said in the release. “We love the wild turkey resource and want to do everything we can do to keep wild turkey populations healthy and thriving.”

For information on how to buy the wild turkey license plate – or other specialty plates – click here.

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