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    Description

    Merriam's turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo merriami) in the Black Hills feed in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forest habitats during winter, but some birds centralize winter activities within or near farmsteads that provide waste grain as supplemental food. The objective of our research was to determine if female Merriam's turkeys that wintered in association with supplemental food from livestock feeding had different survival rates than birds that wintered within ponderosa pine forest. We captured and radiomarked 94 females over a 4-year period. Winter (1 Dec-31 Mar) survival of Merriam's females wintering in association with livestock feeding and farmsteads (S = 0.94, SE = 0.03) was not different from females wintering in forest habitats (S = 0.92, SE = 0.03). Annual survival of adult females (mean S = 0.67, SE = 0.09) varied among years (range 0.54-0.83) from 2001-2003 based on Kaplan-Meier estimates. Lowest seasonal survival occurred during spring (1 Apr-30 Jun) (adult S = 0.83, SE = 0.04; yearling S = 0.64, SE = 0.13). Mammalian predators accounted for the highest percentage of mortality (47.2%). Primary mammalian predators were coyotes (Canis latrans) and bobcats (Lynx rufus) based on evidence from infrared camera photos and dorsal guard hair identification. Survival in the southern Black Hills was similar or higher than rates reported for Merriam's turkey from both its indigenous range and introduced range.

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    Citation

    Lehman, Chad P.; Flake, Lester D.; Rumble, Mark A. 2007. Survival and cause-specific mortality of Merriam''s turkeys in the southern Black Hills. Proceedings of the National Wild Turkey Symposium. 9: 295-301.

    Keywords

    Black Hills, Merriam's, mortality, radiotelemetry, survival, wild turkey

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