Survival of Game Farm, F1-Wild Progeny, and Wild-relocated Northern Bobwhites Using Two Release Methods

We estimated survival rates and cause-specific mortality of radio-marked game farm (N=120), F1-wild progeny (N=120), and wild-relocated northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) (N=80) released on the Amelia Wildlife Management Area (WMA) during October 1998 and March 1999 using the Anchor Covey Release System™ (ACRS) and a habitat release system. Mortality of game farm and F1 bobwhites was high immediately following both releases. During fall, game farm bobwhites survived an average of 1.6 ± 0.2 days and Fl-wild progeny survived 3.3 ± 0.8 days. Post-release survival of game farm and F1 bobwhites released during spring averaged 3.8 ± 0.4 and 6.1 ± 2.4 days, respectively. Survival of pen-raised and F1 bobwhites did not differ (P>0.05) between seasons or by release method. Wild-relocated bobwhites survived longer (P≤0.05) than game farm and F1 birds during both seasons. Predation was the primary cause of morality for released bobwhites. Mammalian predators killed a greater (P≤0.05) proportion of game farm (55.8%) and F1 birds (48.3%) than wild-relocated (32.5%) birds. The proportion of avian predation was greater for bobwhites released using the ACRS than the habitat release system (P=0.07) and also was greater (P≤0.05) during spring than fall. We found no evidence that the ACRS enhanced survival of game farm or F1 bobwhites. Although game farm bobwhites reportedly survive longer following release in some areas, our data suggest that the release of game farm and F1-wild birds to restock depleted northern bobwhite range is unjustified in situations similar to those we studied.

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