Spring Burning for Wild Turkey Brood Habitat: An Evaluation

Increased interest in and use of growing season prescribed burning has caused concern among sportsmen and biologists as to the potential impact on ground nesting game birds. We used radio-telemetry and invertebrate sampling to evaluate early growing season (April-May) prescribed burning to provide wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) brood habitat in the Coastal Plain pine (Firms spp.) forests of south Georgia from 1988 to 1990. None of the 14 hen-poult groups monitored were ever located in spring burns. Additionally, there was no significant difference in invertebrate abundance during the brood season between late winter (February-March) and spring burns. Our evaluation of spring burns for wild turkey brood habitat indicates that there are no benefits over traditional winter burning, and spring burning poses a threat to wild turkey nests. Alternative management strategies are discussed.

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