We studied the survival and reproduction of a newly introduced population of Eastern Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) during 1999 and 2000 to determine the adaptability of this subspecies to a minimally wooded (<10%) region located north of their recorded historic distribution in South Dakota. During 1999 and 2000, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP) released 111 female and 25 male turkeys from Iowa and Kentucky onto a study area in northeastern South Dakota. We used radio telemetry to monitor survival and reproduction of the females for 2 years after their initial release. Annual survival for 71 females averaged 67%. Seasonal survival was lowest in fall and highest in winter. Mortality agents included avian and mammalian predators, haying equipment, automobiles, and unknown causes. Nesting rate for the 2 years averaged 93%, and renesting rate of turkeys with failed 1st-nest attempts averaged 45%. Nest success for all nests was 50%, and 62% of females attempting to nest each year were successful in at least 1 attempt. Predation was the primary cause of nest failure during both years. Overall, 72% of brooding females successfully raised ≥1 poult to 4 weeks post-hatch while individual poult survival to 4 weeks post-hatch averaged 36%. Despite <10% woodland cover, Eastern Wild Turkeys appeared to thrive in a glacial escarpment topography north of their historic range in the northern plains.
Shields, Roger D. and Flake, Lester D.
"Survival and reproduction of translocated Eastern Wild Turkeys in a sparsely wooded landscape in northeastern South Dakota,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 66
, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol66/iss3/4