Space use, daily movements, and roosting behavior of male wild turkeys during spring in Louisiana and Texas.

  • January 1, 2015
  • by Gross, J. T., Little, A. R., Collier, B. A., & Chamberlain, M. J.

Because wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are an important game species and turkey hunter numbers are increasing, the need for better in- formation on how turkeys use their environment is critical. With the recent advent of GPS technology suitable for use on wild turkeys, we are now able to collect data on a scale not previously possible. We used backpack style GPS units to detail home range and core area sizes, daily movement distances, and roosting characteristics of male Eastern (M. g. silvestris) and Rio Grande (M. g. intermedia) wild turkeys in Louisiana and Texas. Mean home range size was larger in Louisiana (383 ha) than in Texas (270 ha), and mean distance between consecutive roost sites was farther in Louisiana (803 m) than in Texas (211 m). However, average daily distance traveled was shorter in Louisiana (3725 m) than in Texas (4608 m). The mean distance between consecu- tive roost sites was 803m in Louisiana and 211m in Texas. Our findings suggest that space use and daily movements of male wild turkeys vary little from Eastern to Rio Grande, but that roosting habits and movements associated with roosting differ strongly. Managers should recognize that availability of roost sites may greatly influence daily movements and behavior of Rio Grande wild turkeys but may have limited impacts on Eastern wild turkeys.