Type of Document Master's Thesis Author Morgan, John T. URN etd-08012012-040629 Title Overwinter survival of wild turkeys on central Virginia's industrial forests Degree Master of Science Department Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Vaughan, Michael R. Committee Chair Bromley, Peter T. Committee Member Stauffer, Dean F. Committee Member Keywords
- Wild turkey
Date of Defense 1989-05-05 Availability restricted AbstractOverwinter survival of wild turkeys on industrial forests managed for short-rotation pines (treatment) and typical Piedmont forests and farmland (control), was investigated in Virginia’s
central Piedmont during 1986-1988. Ninety-six percent of the turkeys (N =106) were captured
in early fall with alpha-chloralose laced bait. Sixty-three percent of the captured turkeys
recovered and were released with transmitters; 15% were released without transmitters; and
21% died from capture related causes.
Overwinter survival for all turkeys was <2% regardless of area or year. Daily survival
was lower on the control areas (P < 0.01), however, due to the small (13) and scattered
sample of turkeys captured over the 3 years on control areas, these data were omitted from
further analyses. Daily survival on treatment areas over the 3 years was 97.6%. Thirty-seven percent of radio-equipped turkeys on treatment areas died within 2 weeks of release
suggesting that factors related to the trapping process influenced survival. Possibilities
considered were residual effects from alpha-chloralose, capture myopathy, and/or a negative
effect from the transmitter and/or harness. Four weeks after release daily survival rates
improved significantly (P < 0.01) indicating the influence from trapping had subsided.
While hardwoods composed 38% of the primary treatment area, 65% of turkeys died in
hardwood stands; predation accounted for 81% ofthe turkey mortality (N =42). Field evidence
and necropsy results plus scent station data indicated that gray foxes (Urocyon
cinereoargenteus) were the main turkey predators. Fox scats contained no detectable turkey
remains but indicated that eastern cottontails (Silvilagus floridanus) were a primary prey species.
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