Effects of Pen-raised Northern Bobwhite Introductions on Wild Bobwhites in South Texas

Although restocking wild populations with pen-raised bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) is considered ineffective, it has become popular and acceptable among sportsmen to supplement hunting opportunities. Nonetheless, their impact on wild bobwhite populations remains unknown. The objectives of this study were to compare bobwhite survival, core area of use, and relative predator abundance between treatment (release of pen-raised bobwhites) and control areas. We monitored 136 wild bobwhites via radiotelemetry from September to February 2000-01 and 2001-02 on 2 areas (1 release and 1 control site) in Brooks County, Texas. We released 800 pen-raised bobwhites on the treatment site from November to December 2000 and 1,920 pen-raised bobwhites during the same time period in 2001. We documented greater survival of wild bobwhites in the control site (38%; N = 39 bobwhites) compared to the treatment site (14%; N = 41 bobwhites) only during 2001 (P = 0.02). Core area of use was greater on the treatment site (16.01 ± 1.23 ha; N = 9 coveys) compared to control site (10.39 ± 1.09 ha; N = 11 coveys) only during 2000 (P = 0.003). There was no difference in relative abundance of raptor or mammalian predators between control and treatment sites for either year (P > 0.05). The release of pen-raised bobwhites might negatively impact of wild bobwhites by increasing the amount of space used by wild bobwhites.

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