Hunting Activity and Male Wild Turkey Movements in South Carolina

Anthropogenic pressure can have significant impacts on how wildlife move and how they use habitats. During 2014-2016, we deployed 41 GPS transmitters on male wild turkeys on the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Webb Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Complex to evaluate effects of hunting intensity on male wild turkey movement ecology. Daily mean movement distance was 3,254 m day-1, but there was significant variation in our mean estimate (SD = 1,478) with movements ranging from 137 to 14,599 m on any given day. Male wild turkeys slightly decreased their movements in response to hunting intensity, but differences in movement distances were <300m and not biologically significant. We found that the primary driver of male wild turkey movements was neither hunting season timing/intensity nor reproductive period timing. Our findings revealed considerable inter-individual variation in movements during spring hunting and reproductive seasons, and drivers of this variation are unclear. Hence, we suggest that management strategies based on average movements or range estimates may be inappropriate, and a more individual-level evaluation may be warranted.

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