Tuesday, June 19, 2007

NWTF Hosts Large Ocellated Turkey Survey

MEXICO — The National Wild Turkey Federation recently trapped and released a record number of Ocellated turkeys as part of an ongoing project to learn more about the species.

"We expect to gain basic population information on the Ocellated turkey, with the goal of addressing concerns on the welfare of this species," said Scott Vance, NWTF director of partnership programs. "This will provide critical information for wildlife managers in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize who are responsible for Ocellated turkey management and hunting regulations. Without this study and the valuable information gained from it, future hunting for the Ocellated turkey could be in jeopardy because so little is known about the bird."

The study will take place over a four-year period, where birds will be trapped in the fall and winter, fitted with radio-tags and released. The birds will be monitored throughout the entire year to determine population size and status; home range and habitat use; nest initiation rates, nesting success and poult survival; adult mortality rates and to identify cause of mortality.

Last year, five Ocellated turkeys were radio-tagged and monitored. Some of these birds moved over seven miles in a few months and provided important habitat use information. This past March, 12 Ocellated turkeys were trapped, radio-tagged, released and are currently being monitored. This is the most Ocellated turkeys ever trapped, tagged and released.

The study is being conducted on La Montana Ranch, which is a 25,000-acre hunting ranch. The first year will serve as a pilot project and will be confined to La Montana Ranch, with future plans to expand the program to more sites.

"Because of this study we should obtain the largest and most comprehensive amount of Ocellated turkey data ever recorded," said Vance. "These studies are extremely important for the continued well-being and regulated hunting of the species."

Partners in this study are NWTF-Mexico, SEMARNAT (The Mexican equivalent to the US Fish and Wildlife Service), AMAVISI, La Montana Ranch and the Collegios de Postgraduados in Campeche and San Luis Potosi.

To learn more about the Ocellated turkey study, contact Scott Vance at (800) THE-NWTF or svance@nwtf.net.