Addressing wild turkey population declines using structured decision making

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

We present a case study from New York, USA, of the use of structured decision making (SDM) to identify fall turkey harvest regulations that best meet stakeholder objectives, in light of recent apparent declines in abundance of wild turkeys in the northeastern United States. We used the SDM framework to incorporate the multiple objectives associated with turkey hunting, stakeholder desires, and region-specific ecological and environmental factors that could influence fall harvest. We identified a set of 4 fall harvest regulations, composed of different season lengths and bag limits, and evaluated their relative achievement of the objectives. We used a stochastic turkey population model, statistical modeling, and expert elicitation to evaluate the consequences of each harvest regulation on each of the objectives. We conducted a statewide mail survey of fall turkey hunters in New York to gather the necessary information to evaluate tradeoffs among multiple objectives associated with hunter satisfaction. The optimal fall harvest regulation was a 2-week season and allowed for the harvest of 1 bird/hunter. This regulation was the most conservative of those evaluated, reflecting the concerns about recent declines in turkey abundance among agency wildlife biologists and the hunting public. Depending on the region of the state, the 2-week, 1-bird regulation was predicted to result in 7–32% more turkeys on the landscape after 5 years. The SDM process provided a transparent framework for setting fall turkey harvest regulations and reduced potential stakeholder conflict by explicitly taking the multiple objectives of different stakeholder groups into account.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Addressing wild turkey population declines using structured decision making
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.21220
Volume 81
Issue 3
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 13 p.
First page 393
Last page 405
Country United States
State New York