Georgia DNR biologists work hard every day to make the best decisions for the citizens of Georgia and the management of our wildlife resources. This often requires extensive research studies to make well informed decisions for the future.

 

Why are we studying this and why is it important?

Turkey hunting is one of the most popular hunting opportunities for Georgia hunters. Recent surveys have shown that hunter satisfaction is related to hearing turkeys gobble and seeing male turkeys.

The three main things biologists want to determine are:

  1. How is gobbling activity affected by hunters and natural predators such as coyotes?
  2. What areas and habitat are male wild turkeys using during the reproductive season?
  3. Laying and incubation behavior of female turkeys.
Turkey nest with eggs at DiLane Plantation WMA. Photo credit: Georgia DNR

 

Researchers know there’s a pattern between gobbling activity and increased testosterone levels during the breeding season. But, they’re unsure how other environmental factors influence gobbling. This study will also help researchers understand habitat characteristics and vegetation types associated with gobbling activity. It will also shed light on how male turkeys behave before, during, and after hunting season.

 

Where is the study happening?

2 WMAs located in the Piedmont of Georgia: B.F. Grant and Cedar Creek WMA.

 

How long will the study take place?

This initial part of the study end in 2021.

 

Who’s working on answering the questions?

Georgia DNR biologists and University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources professors, students, and researchers.

UGA student researchers attach a radio transmitter to a male turkey. Photo credit: Georgia DNR

 

How does the study happen?

gobbling recorder
Autonomous recording unit (ARU) collecting gobbling activity data. Photo credit: Dr. Mike Chamberlain/UGA

It starts by catching adult and juvenile male turkeys using rocket nets in the winter. Once the birds are captured, each individual is banded and fitted with a GPS transmitter that will track their location every hour during daylight hours in the spring. In the fall and winter, the transmitters will also record a location once daily. The transmitters will also record a night roost location for the duration of the study. Researchers will use radio telemetry to track the birds during the study to monitor survival rates and collect data on habitat use. Researchers will also radio collar coyotes to collect more information about how coyote behavior between January and June effects wild turkey behavior. This time frame was chosen because both coyotes and turkey breed during this period. Autonomous recording units (ARUs) will be placed across the WMAs to collect gobbling activity data.

 

How long until we know something?

More information will be available by May 2019. However, the coyote study portion will not be available until 2020.