Effects of variable spring harvest regimes on annual survival and recovery rates of male wild turkeys in Southeast Louisiana

Authors

  • Michael J. Chamberlain,

    Corresponding author
    1. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
    • Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.
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  • Blake A. Grisham,

    1. School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA.
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  • Jennifer L. Norris,

    1. School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. Ohio Department of Natural Resources—Wildlife Division, Ashley, OH 43003, USA.
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  • Norman J. Stafford III,

    1. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, P. O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA
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  • Frederick G. Kimmel,

    1. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, P. O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA
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  • Michael W. Olinde

    1. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, P. O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA
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  • Associate Editor: Bret A. Collier

Abstract

Spring harvest is a primary mortality factor for male eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris), but the relationship between spring harvest regimes and annual survival is not well understood. We banded 462 male wild turkeys from 1989 to 2007 in southeastern Louisiana to estimate annual survival and band recovery rates relative to spring harvest. We evaluated these parameters under a liberal harvest season (3-bird limit; 1989–1997) and a reduced conservative harvest season (2-bird limit; 2000–2007). Estimated recovery rates during the liberal season were 0.75 (SE = 0.05) for adults and 0.63 (SE = 0.04) for juveniles, and recovery rates during the conservative season were 0.61 (SE = 0.04) and 0.48 (SE = 0.05) for adults and juveniles, respectively. Annual survival averaged 0.16 (SE = 0.05) and 0.43 (SE = 0.05) for adults and juveniles, respectively, during the liberal season. Conversely, during the conservative season, annual survival averaged 0.31 (SE = 0.05) and 0.56 (SE = 0.05) for adults and juveniles, respectively. Our findings suggest that bag limit reductions combined with a reduction in season length contributed to a 2-fold increase in annual survival for male wild turkeys. We contend that male wild turkeys were likely over harvested on our study area during the liberal harvest season, which contributed to exceptionally low annual survival rates. Managers should attempt to assess survival rates of male wild turkeys in harvested populations to properly manage spring harvest and develop appropriate harvest limits. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.

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