Spring harvest rates of male wild turkeys (Meleagris gallapavo) influence the number and proportion of adult males in the population and turkey population models have treated harvest as additive to other sources of mortality. Therefore, hunting regulations and their effect on spring harvest rates have direct implications for hunter satisfaction. We used tag recovery models to estimate survival rates, investigate spatial, temporal, and demographic variability in harvest rates, and assess how harvest rates may be related to management strategies and landscape characteristics. We banded 3,266 male wild turkeys throughout New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania during 2006-2009. We found little evidence that harvest rates varied by year or management zone. The proportion of the landscape that was forested within 6.5km of the capture location was negatively related to harvest rates; however, even though the proportion forested ranged from 0.008 to 0.96 across our study area, this corresponded to differences in harvest rates of only 2-5%. Annual survival was approximately twice as high for juveniles (S = 0.64- 0.87) as adults (S = 0.30- 0.41). In turn, spring harvest rates for adult turkeys were greater for adults (H = 0.35-0.39) than juveniles (H = 0.17- 0.27). We estimated the population of male turkeys in New York and Pennsylvania ranged from 104,000 to 132,000 in all years and ranged from 63,000 to 75,000 in Ohio. Because of greater harvest rates for adult males, the proportion of adult males in the population was less than in the harvest and ranged from 0.40 to 0.81 among all states and years. The high harvest rates observed for adults may be offset by greater recruitment of juveniles into the adult age class the following year such that these states can sustain high harvest rates yet still maintain a relative high proportion of adult males in the harvest and population.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation