Wild Turkey Population Dynamics and Brood Survival Project report for March 2023
Wild turkey genetics, nesting success, and brood survival are among the focus areas in a planned 4.5-year study launched at the beginning of 2022 by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, other state and federal entities, and private landowners working together to address wild turkey population dynamics. Following is a summary of recent study activities.
Southwestern Population Study Area: The research team captured and deployed transmitters on 23 hens during March. All 30 transmitters for the southwestern area were deployed, with eight in eastern Harmon County, 14 in western Harmon County, and eight in eastern Greer County. All birds were captured using walkin traps after attempts to use drop nets failed. Researchers are preparing to deploy 50 game cameras in April to estimate predator densities in the southwest.
Southeastern Population Study Area: The research team captured 21 hens and five gobblers during March. Twenty of the hens were fitted with transmitters, while one hen was unable to be tagged due to a preexisting injury. One mortality was recorded in the southeast during March, with the tentative cause of death recorded as capture myopathy. At least nine hens tagged in 2022 are still alive and transmitting. An aerial search is planned to locate four transmitters deployed in 2022 that have not been located from the ground. Game cameras are being prepared for deployment in April to estimate predator densities.
Genetics Study: Researchers ordered supplies for processing the anticipated tissue samples from the 2023 spring turkey hunting season. DNA extraction will begin when samples are received after the season closes May 16. Researchers contacted biologists in northwestern New Mexico to gather some samples from Merriam’s and Merriam’s/Rio Grande hybrid populations. These samples will provide a basis to compare any potential Merriam’s DNA found in Oklahoma.