Turkeys For Tomorrow’s focus on the conservation of the wild turkey is not limited to one region, we are working to save the wild turkey in all regions of North America. Our partners at the Iowa DNR have been implementing practices and conducting research for the past two years that is providing vital information to their biologists and enabling them to make sound decisions related to the wild turkey. This research can be utilized throughout the country.
Dan Kaminski, a wildlife biologist with the Iowa DNR, has been marking hens and poults with GPS or VHF/radio transmitters since 2021. This has enabled Dan to evaluate population demographic parameters related to hen and poult survival, cause-specific mortality, and nesting rates. Some of Dan’s findings have been in line with the trends that TFT has seen in other states as well as in research that they have funded. A portion of Dan’s research is listed below and gives a glimpse into the challenges the wild turkey is facing in Iowa. These results are only for one year and so additional years of data are needed to understand how these numbers fit into the greater picture of turkey reproduction in Iowa.
Overall, for 2022:
● A total of 73 hens were marked last winter.
● As of early August, 27 hens have died for a mortality rate of 38%.
● Of 63 hens available to nest starting on May 1, only 7 nests hatched successfully (i.e., hatched at least one egg; 11% hen success rate).
● Of 33 hens marked with GPS transmitters, 7 hens did not incubate a nest, 17 incubated 1 nest, 8 incubated 2 nests, and 1 incubated 3 nests.
● Most of the nest failure was due to predation, however, one nest failed due to hay mowing and one failed due to abandonment by the hen
● The median day of nest failure was 8 days, and a preliminary nest survival model indicates 50% of nests failed by day 10 of incubation.
● Of the 7 nests that successfully hatched, the average clutch size was 9.9 eggs per nest and the average number of eggs hatched was 7.7 eggs per nest.
● Of the 54 eggs that hatched, 18 poults were observed during poult captures conducted within 1-3 days post-hatch and a total of 12 poults were marked with
VHF/radio transmitters. During 4-week flush counts for 6 of the 7 hens that hatched a nest, a total of 4 poults remained alive. One hen was not flushed because her transmitter failed prior to the 4-week flush count. Much like the Alabama survey conducted by Dr. Will Gulsby these results clearly show that there is a serious issue in nesting, hatching of a brood, and the survival of a brood. Through a collaborative effort with TFT various state DNRs and Wildlife Biologists hope to identify trends and statistics that are prevalent in all areas where studies are being conducted. This information will prove vital to decisions that can be made to implement changes needed to help the wild turkey survive and prosper.
PHOTO CREDIT: Iowa DNR