During 1997 and 1998, we implemented a pilot investigation to compare survival, site fidelity, and reproductive characteristics of relocated wild northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) with that of resident birds. We captured wild bobwhites (n = 74) on managed lands in southern Georgia and relocated them (>1.6 km from capture sites) to sites nearby where density estimates revealed that population density was low compared to surrounding sites. We equipped translocated birds with radiotransmitters and released them in groups of 8–12. We also captured resident birds (n = 166) and simultaneously monitored them via radiotelemetry. We found no difference in survival (P = 0.82), nest production (P = 0.19), or nest survival (P = 0.85) between relocated and resident bobwhites. This suggests that relocating wild bobwhites does not negatively impact their survival or reproductive output. Based on the results of the pilot study, we implemented a large-scale relocation to determine whether relocation can increase native bobwhite populations. Following the pilot study, during 2000–2002, we relocated wild bobwhites (n = 202) within property boundaries to 3 different sites where population densities were low. Although only 2 sites experienced a significant population increase, hunting records suggested a positive population response for all sites where relocation occurred. Hence, relocation of wild bobwhites prior to breeding season may augment low-density populations, isolated populations, or voids within populations. The utility of translocation may facilitate preservation and conservation of the northern bobwhite by augmenting restoration efforts focused on habitat management, affording species preservation in isolated habitats, and increasing population dynamics and demographics via genetic enrichment.
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Vol. 70 • No. 4