Wild turkey responses to intensive pine management in Virginia's central piedmont
Wild turkey mortality rates, habitat use patterns, and recruitment were investigated on intensively managed pine forest of the Central Piedmont. Thirty-two adults and poults were captured with adult dosages of alpha-chloralose. Poults were easily sedated and usually recovered 1 day sooner than adults.
The annual mortality rate for marked turkeys was 85%; September-February mortality was 65% (N=17), and March-August mortality was 57% (N=21). Turkeys that died during hunting seasons were recovered significantly (p < 0.05) closer to roads than those that died out of hunting seasons. High mortality during the hunting seasons and the association of hunting season mortality with roads suggests a crippling loss to legal harvest ratio as high as 4:1.
Use of young pine plantations, hardwood leave strips, large stands of mixed hardwoods, mature pine stands, and fields was not significantly different (p > 0.1) from availability. Turkeys were associated with edges while on their winter and prenesting ranges. Nests were located in a variety of stand types, near edges, and in heavier cover than generally available. Nesting success was 48%. Post critical period brood survival was 90%. These data indicate that wild turkeys can adapt to the early stages of forest conversion for intensive pine management.