Stanley R. Priest

Title of study - Relationships between wild turkey hens, environmental factors, and predation during the wild turkey reproductive period on Tallahala Wildlife Management Area Date of thesis - May 1995

Raccoon (Procyon lotor) home range size, habitat use, survival rates, and effects of meteorological events on wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) hen nest losses from predation were studied on Tallahala Wildlife Management Area (TWMA) in central Mississippi, 1991-1992. Data from 33 transmittered raccoons and 103 turkey hens (Phalen 1986, Seiss 1989, Palmer 1990) were used in analyses. Raccoon seasonal home range sizes were significantly (P <0.001) larger during the wild turkey nesting period and generally were smallest during the post-nesting period. Composite home range sizes were consistent with results of other recent studies of raccoons conducted in the Southeast.

Bottomland hardwood forests were preferred by raccoons during all periods. However, during the turkey nesting period raccoon habitat use changed to include more mature pine (Pinus spp.) stands and pine regeneration areas and less hardwood.

Disease seemed to be a major mortality factor of raccoons during 1991. Illegal trapping was the major cause of death during 1992. Survival rates were 0.53 and 0.69 for 1991 and 1992, respectively.

Although total amount of rainfall during the wild turkey nesting period was not correlated with nesting success, pattern of rainfall was important. Predation on turkey nests often occurred after rains preceded by at least 2 days of dry weather. Management implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.