Evaluation of a method for surgically implanting radiotransmitters in Rio Grande turkey poults



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Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) poult survival is fundamental to understanding wild turkey populations. However, current technology only allows managers to measure survival through the first 30 days of life. With the aid of suitable radiotransmitters, it would be possible to gain reliable poult survival estimates into their first winter. Various methods of attachment of radiotransmitters have been examined including harnesses, backpacks, gluing, suturing, collaring, and implants. New radiotransmitter and implant technology is necessary to assess poult survival between hatching and recruitment as juveniles the following spring.

We tested a new surgically implantable radiotransmitter (weighing 2.2 g [Advanced Telemetry Systems, Isanti, MN]) and implant procedure on Rio Grande turkey (M. g. intermedia) poults to assess survival to 8 months of age. We evaluated 4 treatment groups: (1) control (no radiotransmitter or surgery) (n = 22); (2) surgery without radiotransmitter (n = 26); (3) surgery with radiotransmitter (n = 35); and pre-treatment birds (n = 8). We monitored poult behavior and daily survival to determine effects of these procedures. Neither implants nor implant procedure had detectable effects on survival among treatment groups. However, immediately post-surgery we did notice a difference in the motor response of implanted poults. We also detected differences in weight, wing chord, and girth among the treatment groups. Signals from the implanted radiotransmitters could be detected at a range of 30 ± 10 m for 102-day period.



Meleagris gallopavo, Implant, Radiotransmitter, Poult