Is Spring Wild Turkey Gobbler Harvest Additive or Compensatory?

We compared survival rates of eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo sylvestris) gobblers in hunted (Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area and Ecological reserve [CWMA]) and unhunted (Savannah River Site [SRS]) populations in South Carolina to assess impact of spring gobbler-only hunts. Annual survival rate of gobblers on SRS (0.71) was greater (χ2 = 5.11; df = 1; P = 0.02) than that of gobblers on CWMA (0.54). Our results indicate that spring gobbler harvests constitute additive mortality to turkey populations. However, even in years when reproductive rates were relatively low, a spring-only gobbler harvest rate of 25% appeared to have a minimal effect on turkey populations.

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