Movements of Wild Turkey Gobblers in Central Mississippi

The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is an important game species throughout the Southeast. While many long-term research projects have provided quantitative data on wild turkey ecology, information on daily gobbler movements is lacking. Because data on gobbler mobility may affect habitat and population management, we studied gobbler movements by radio-telemetry (N = 2,775 locations) on Tallahala Wildlife Management Area, Mississippi. Gobblers (N = 48) were monitored from 1 February 1989 through 30 September 1990 hourly from roost to 1200 hours (morning) and 1300 hours to roost (afternoon) during spring (1 Feb-31 May), summer (1 Jun-30 Sep), and fall/winter (1 Oct-31 Jan). Daily mean distance moved during the morning was 2,492 m for adults and 2,412 m for juveniles in spring 1989. Daily mean distances moved in the morning in spring 1990 by adults (1,228 m) and juveniles (955 m) were significantly (P <0.05) greater. During afternoon in spring, mean distances moved for adults and juveniles in 1989 were 2,457 m and 1,806 m, respectively, and 1,679 m and 1,526 m, respectively, in 1990. Mean distances moved in summer were significantly (P <0.05) less than those of spring for all periods and both age classes, except adults in the morning. Fall/winter movements of gobblers were significantly (P <0.05) less than those in spring or summer. Managers should consider distances moved and home range size when planning management strategies.

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