Predation Rates on Wild Turkey Hens in a Hardwood Bottomland Forest and a Mixed Forest in Mississippi

Concern has arisen about effects of predation on wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) populations because of increases in predator abundance. We examined differences in canid (Canis spp.) and bobcat (Felis rufus) predation of adult wild turkey hens between a hardwood bottomland forest and a mixed forest in Mississippi. Daily mortality rate from canids and bobcats was higher on the hardwood bottomland forest (0.002) than on the mixed forest (0.0006), but overall daily survival rates were similar. A higher predation rate on the hardwood bottomland forest from large predators may have been caused by its insular nature, a lack of a groundstory vegetation layer, and/or use of small (<4 ha) hardwood regeneration areas by wild turkeys for nesting. A higher prey base (i.e., small mammals) on the hardwood bottomland forest may have contributed to higher canid/felid populations. Selective timber harvest within the forest may improve turkey nesting habitat conditions. Managers may need to consider predator management on insular forests when attempting to manage for high wild turkey densities.

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