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Dustin Toy

Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Kent C. Jensen


Merriam’s wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo merriami) have become naturalized in the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota. With hunting activity increasing, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department wanted to investigate the potential for increasing spring hunting opportunity while still maintaining a healthy wild turkey population. To accomplish their goal, starting in the spring of 2010, the WGFD changed the licensing system to give hunters the option to obtain up to 2 wild turkey licenses valid in northeast Wyoming, Black Hills unit (Hunt Area 1). The change increased opportunity to hunters from a single general spring license valid for any male or visibly bearded wild turkey, as was allowed previously during the 1-license system to a system that allowed hunters to obtain an additional license valid only in Hunt Area 1 for any male or visibly bearded wild turkey (Wyoming Game & Fish Department 2010). However, there is limited information about the effects on male wild turkey survival after increasing the number of licenses available to each hunter. To assess the effect of the change in regulations, a four year research project was initiated of which this investigation constituted the 2-license system portion (January 2010 - May 2011). The objectives of this research were to (1) estimate survival rates of male wild turkeys, (2) estimate the impact of hunting on survival under different license systems, (3) determine cause-specific mortality of male wild turkeys, and (4) determine impacts extreme weather events had on survival of male Merriam’s wild turkeys in the Wyoming Black Hills (Hunt Area 1). Approximately 182 male wild turkeys were radio-marked and monitored during the 2-license system. An 8.3% decrease in study-long survival was observed from the 1- license system to the 2-license system. Seasonal survival estimates from the best-fit model displayed a considerable decrease in 2-year-old (-5.4%) and ≥3-year-old (-2.6%) weekly survival rates during the hunting seasons when an additional license was available to each hunter. Results suggest the additional license availability resulted in increased mortality in male Merriam’s wild turkeys in the Black Hills of Wyoming.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Merriam's turkey -- Wyoming
Merriam's turkey -- Black Hills (S.D. and Wyo.)
Turkey hunting -- Wyoming
Turkey hunting -- Black Hills (S.D. and Wyo.)


Includes bibliographical references (page 50-55)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2011 Dustin Toy. All rights reserved.