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    We investigated poult survival from hatching to 4 wks of age for Merriam's wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo merriami) poults in the southern Black Hills, South Dakota. We estimated survival from 841 poults reared by 57 radio-marked wild turkeys (n = 52 adult females, n = 5 yearling females). Survival of poults to 4 wks posthatch averaged 33 percent with 54 percent of the mortality occurring in the first 7 days after hatching. Merriam's turkey poult survival in the southern Black Hills was low compared to Merriam's populations found elsewhere in the entire current range. Survival of poults increased with age, fewer precipitation events, and fewer extreme cold and wet events. The interaction of age of poults with cold and wet events through 15 days posthatch indicated that younger poults were more susceptible to cold and wet weather events than older-aged poults. We observed several poults < 3 days of age that apparently died from hypothermia. A fine-scale based weather index that uses individual weather stations for specific areas occupied by turkeys may be a valuable tool for managers to estimate production in Merriam's turkeys if survey or radio telemetry data are not available.

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    Lehman, Chad P.; Flake, Lester D.; Rumble, Mark A.; Thompson, Daniel J. 2008. Merriam's turkey poult survival in the Black Hills, South Dakota. Intermountain Journal of Sciences. 14(4): 78-88.


    Black Hills, Merriam's turkey, Meleagris gallopavo merriami, ponderosa pine, poult, precipitation, survival, wild turkey

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