Survival and Nesting Success of Late Winter Wild Turkey Introductions

During late winter 1988 and 1989, 18 radio-marked eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo sylvestris) hens released into Natchez Trace State Park, Forest and Wildlife Management Area (Natchez Trace), and 20 radio-marked Natchez Trace (resident) hens released at the capture site were monitored continuously throughout the nesting and brooding season. Introduced turkeys experienced greater mortality than residents, especially during the 30-day period following release (P <0.05). Introduced birds displayed more frequent and greater daily movements than resident hens. Spring home ranges of introduced hens were larger (P = 0.02) than residents. During the initial nesting season, released birds had fewer nesting attempts, renesting attempts, nests to completion, and lower recruitment rates than resident hens (P <0.05). In their second post-introductory season, introduced hens had a higher nesting success rate than in the previous year and higher recruitment rates than second-year residents (P <0.05). Our data suggest that habitat unfamiliarity contributes to mortality and lower reproductive rates in late-winter transplanted turkeys.

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