Evaluating 2 Potential Limiting Factors for Relocated Turkeys in Texas

Relocated eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) have been increasing in northern Post Oak Savannah (POS) of Texas. However, it has been difficult to establish populations in the southern POS where mortality is high and reproductive success low. It has been proposed that high spring precipitation and high carnivore numbers account for poor population viability in the southern POS. We found that spring precipitation (1994-1995 nesting seasons) was not above the historic average (1950-1993), nor did unusually high rainfall events occur. These data suggest that spring precipitation might not account for low reproductive success of relocated wild turkeys in southern POS. Furthermore, carnivore indices for northern and southern counties (spotlight census data—7,658 km, 1980-1994) were 74 carnivores/100 km and 51 carnivores/100 km, respectively. We also reject the hypothesis that carnivore numbers were greater in the southern POS than in the northern POS. However, we propose, despite higher carnivore numbers observed in the northern POS, predator efficiency might be greater in the southern POS due to unsuitable nesting and brood-rearing habitat for turkeys.

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12458