Wildlife managers depend on accurate information regarding wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) survival patterns to properly manage turkey populations. Survival patterns of male Rio Grande wild turkeys (M. g. intermedia) have not been studied intensively. Wildlife managers in the Texas Panhandle, USA, and southwestern Kansas, USA, suspected that turkey populations were declining. From January 2000 through August 2002, we studied survival and movement of 107 juvenile male and 115 adult male radiomarked Rio Grande wild turkeys on 4 study sites in the Texas Panhandle and southwestern Kansas. We predicted that males would experience lowest survival during spring and that there would be no difference in survival between age classes. We also predicted that greater male movement rates would lead to lower survival rates. Juvenile males had a higher annual survival rate (0.597 [95% CI hereafter: 0.478–0.716]) than adults (0.364 [0.257–0.472]). Juvenile male survival did not differ among seasons, with survival rates of 0.813 (0.736–0.891), 0.904 (0.837–0.972), and 0.917 (0.838–0.996) for spring, summer, and autumn, respectively. Adult male turkey survival was higher during summer (0.915 [0.859–0.972]) than during spring (0.725 [0.651–0.799]), autumn (0.671 [0.536–0.807]), and winter (0.792 [0.732–0.851]). Males had lower survival rates during seasons when long-distance movements were common. The annual survival rate for turkeys that moved to new core-use areas (0.383 [0.282–0.484]) was lower than that for turkeys that did not (0.535 [0.460–0.609]). Also, survival rates increased with time since relocation of core-use areas. Hunting accounted for 18.5% of all mortalities. However, most (80.7%) mortality was attributed to natural causes, mostly mammalian predation. We suspected most predation was the result of coyotes (Canis latrans) and bobcats (Lynx rufus). Managers in the northern portion of the natural range of Rio Grande wild turkeys should be aware of the presence of natural mortality factors that are evident in lightly hunted populations. Managers interested in increasing the survival of male Rio Grande wild turkeys should concentrate on efforts that will provide needed resources in close proximity to roosts.
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Vol. 70 • No. 4