Impact of Supplemental Feeding for Northern Bobwhite on Movement Ecology of Eastern Wild Turkeys in South Carolina

Management techniques to improve wildlife populations often can affect non-target species indirectly. Supplemental feeding for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) has become a popular management technique to improve bobwhite recruitment and survival, but potential impacts on non-target species such as eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) are unknown. We deployed 111 global positioning systems on wild turkeys on the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Webb Wildlife Management Area Complex during 2014-2016 to evaluate if supplemental feeding for quail impacted wild turkey movement ecology. Turkeys which used areas where supplemental feeding had occurred maintained larger ranges before, during, and after hunting season. Ranges of individuals that used the treatment area in 2014 before feeding occurred were larger than individuals' ranges that overlapped the treatment area after feeding began, but differences were minimal (<16 ha). Eighteen individuals maintained ranges that encompassed both treated and non-treated areas. The greatest average percentage of range overlap in the treatment area for any period was 14%. Using logistic regression, we estimated that the probability of turkeys using areas where supplemental feeding occurred was 0.032 for all individuals and 0.116 for individuals whose range included the treatment area. Using first passage time (FPT) analysis, area restricted searching (ARS) occurred at points close to supplemental feed, but we found no influence of distance to supplemental feeding area on ARS as ARS occurred throughout areas of individual turkey ranges. Wild turkeys are generalists that show considerable individualism in behavioral choices, thus we assume that supplemental feeding may affect individuals differently across the landscape.

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