Some Characteristics Of An Expanding Turkey Population

A turkey population was established near Auburn, Alabama, in 1965 by releasing 26 wild-captured birds that had been wing-tagged for individual identification. In 1967 and 1968, 76 unbanded descendants of the original stock were captured, wing-marked, banded and released at their capture points. There were also 22 recaptures. All turkeys were captured after being drugged with alpha-chloralose. Weights and some measurements of captured turkeys are presented. From March 1965 through December 1968, 294 trips involving 1,020 hours were made to the study area to observe, count, capture and recapture turkeys and to patrol to prevent poaching. A total of 764 positive identifications of individually marked turkeys was made. Continued observations on this population, most of which was marked, made it possible to estimate spring-breeding populations and late-summer populations each year from 1965 through 1968 on 7,293 acres of the study area. The turkey population more than quadrupled between May 1966 and October 1968 to an estimated 10.4 turkeys per square mile. Losses of adults and large poults were low until 1968 when the loss rate increased. Estimates of age and sex structure of the population were made annually; late summer counts gave hen-poult ratios and estimates of total reproductive success. Estimated hatching dates of captured poults from progress of primary molt were obtained. Movement patterns of turkeys stocked on the study area indicated that most of them established ranges which were included within an approximate two mile radius of their release sites. Management implications are discussed.

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