Survival and Reproduction of Wild Turkey Broodstock Relocated to the Pineywoods of East Texas

We assessed survival and reproduction of Georgia and Iowa eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) relocated to the Pineywoods of Texas. Using approximately equal numbers from each state, 12 females and 3 males were radio tagged and released at each of 4 sites in February 1994. In February 1995, 8 resident females were captured, radio tagged, and released on a disjunct study area intensively managed for wildlife. Radio tracking of the turkeys began immediately after release and continued until 30 June 1996. We found no differences in annual, first-year after release, spring-summer nesting season, or study-period survival among Georgia, Iowa, or resident females (P >0.05). For each group, nests were initiated later (P≤0.05) in the spring following capture than during subsequent springs. Georgia males survived better than Iowa males (P≤0.05), which were all dead or missing 16 months post-release. Reproductive success was minimal, with 4 females producing 7 nests (11 fledged poults) during 3 springs. Nest predation was high (86.9%) and nesting rate low (67.6%). Our results suggest overall reproductive success, not broodstock source, was the primary limiting factor. However, due to male mortality, southeastern broodstock should be used when available and numbers of birds released at each site should be increased to 15 females and 5 males. Block stocking, which allows dispersal among release sites, should continue.

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