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A decline in the population of eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) in southcentral Iowa necessitated more current estimates of population parameters. Survival of 126 eastern wild turkey hens in southcentral Iowa was investigated during 1993-96. Estimates of annual survival averaged 0.676 ?? 0.048% (x?? ?? SE) for adults and 0.713 ?? 0.125 for subadults. Mammalian predators, primarily coyotes (Canis latrans) and red fox (Vulpes fulva) accounted for 64% of all documented mortality. Age-specific annual survival distributions differed within years (P < 0.03), but no difference was detected in survival between age classes across years (P = 0.49). Based on chronological dates, survival of adult hens differed among seasons across years (P = 0.03). However, seasonal survival was not different when estimates were based on hen behavior (p = 0.48). Risk of mortality for hens increased by 2.0% for every 100-m increase in dispersal distance, decreased by 2.0% for every 10-ha increase in home range size, and decreased by 3.5% for each 1.0% increase in proportion of home range in woody cover. Although the exact cause of the population decline remains unknown, we suggest it was more likely related to a decrease in production than changes in hen survival. Declining turkey populations would likely benefit more from management designed to increase reproduction rather than hen survival.
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Factors influencing wild turkey hen survival in southcentral Iowa