An increasingly common practice in southern Texas is baiting roads with grains such as milo (Sorghum spp.) and corn (Zea mays) to facilitate northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) harvest. However, baiting roads might have a negative impact on bobwhite survival by increasing predation or harvest rates. The objective of this project was to determine the effects of road baiting on bobwhite survival, home-range size, and predator abundance. The project involved 2 study sites (baited = treatment and nonbaited = control) that were monitored over 3 periods, pre-baiting (September–October), baiting (November–December), and post-baiting (January–February), during 2001–2002 and 2002–2003. We captured, radiomarked, and monitored bobwhites (n = 60 [treatment site]; n= 58 [control site]) in Jim Hogg County, Texas. We assessed relative abundance and activity of avian and mammalian predators using scent-station and road surveys, respectively. The effects of baiting roads varied between years. During 2001–2002, a relatively dry period, bobwhite survival (Ŝ = 1.00±0.00 [control site]; Ŝ = 0.68±0.10 [treatment site], P=0.01), covey home-range size (15.6±1.43 ha [control site]; 12.7±2.22 ha [treatment site], P=0.046), and covey distance to roads (193±24.6 m [control site]; 95±41.57 m [treatment site], P≤0.001) were lower on the treatment site during the feeding period in contrast to the control site. A nonsignificant trend was noted for higher avian predator abundance on the treatment site during the feeding period. During 2002–2003, a relatively wet period, no difference in bobwhite survival, covey home-range size, and covey distance to roads was found between sites and time periods due to baiting, and no trend in predator abundance was found between pastures and time periods. The practice of baiting ranch roads does not appear to benefit bobwhites in southern Texas, and during dry conditions the practice might be detrimental to bobwhite numbers by lowering survival. Baiting or other methods of dietary supplementation are more likely to benefit bobwhites in more northern climates with colder winters.
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