A Study of a Wild Turkey Population in the Atchafalaya River Basin of Louisiana

Population level and habitat selectivity of an introduced population of the wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo L. was investigated during 1969 and 1970 on a 17,000 acre area of bottomland hardwoods. A cover type map was developed to give reconnaissance evaluation of forest types and detailed analysis of vegetative plots furnished a more complete characterization. Five environment types were subsequently revealed; hardwood or glade bottoms, swamp bottoms, clearings, a small live oak grove, and a limited stand of willows. Vegetative analysis indicated that sweetgum, hackberry, and water oak were dominant tree species in the forest overstory. Poison ivy, peppervine, Virginia creeper, blackberry, and rattan were major species in the understory. Fifty-five turkeys were trapped and marked with colored patagial wing streamers. Of 202 subsequent sightings, the majority were collected in openings and adjacent hardwood bottoms. The maximum dispersal recorded for anyone turkey from the point of capture was 8 miles and the mean movement was calculated at 1.39 miles. Little correlation was detected between seasonal movements and habitat usage. An average estimate of 120 turkeys, or one turkey for each 108 acres was derived through three censusing methods.

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