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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Lester D. Flake


A management goal of the Department of Game, Fish and Parks, National Wild Turkey Federation, and area landowners is to restore the most suitable subspecies of wild turkey in the remaining suitable habitats of South Dakota. Rio Grande wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) were successfully introduced into northeastern South Dakota in 1972-73, and reached peak populations in the middle 1980s. However, wild turkey populations have declined greatly in northeastern South Dakota since the middle 1980s, and research comparing Rio Grande with translocated (from northern Missouri) eastern wild turkeys (M g. silvestris) was initiated in 1996. Eastern wild turkeys are indigenous to southeastern South Dakota. The primary objective was to determine which subspecies of wild turkey was more suited to habitats in northeastern South Dakota. Radio-marked eastern wild turkeys (n = 73) and Rio Grande wild turkeys (n = 37) were located 3-5 times per week on two study areas along the Coteau des Prairie region near Seiche Hollow and Labelle Hollow in northeastern South Dakota. The Labelle Hollow study area (treatment) had primarily eastern wild turkeys as Rio Grande wild turkey flocks were removed in winter to reduce introgression of subspecies. Coexisting populations of eastern and Rio Grande wild turkeys were studied at the Seiche Hollow study area ( control). Results of the subspecies comparisons indicated survival did not significantly differ; however, a severe winter significantly lowered survival for Labelle Hollow eastern wild turkeys when compared with Seiche Hollow eastern wild turkeys (P= 0.01). In spring-summer, eastern wild turkeys had larger (Ps 0.008) home range sizes, greater (Ps 0.001) spring dispersal distances, and higher (Ps 0.03) poult survival than Rio Grande wild turkeys. Furthermore, Labelle Hollow eastern wild turkey winter distances were further (P� 0.01) from farmsteads compared to Seiche Hollow eastern and Rio Grande wild turkeys. Eastern wild turkeys should be released in future wild turkey introduction efforts in northeastern South Dakota. Reduced dependence on farmsteads, greater spring dispersal, and increased poult survival and annual recruitment potential are positive aspects of introducing the eastern subspecies.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Wild turkey -- South Dakota
Turkeys -- Habitat -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references (page 92-100)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © Chad P. Lehman. All rights reserved.