The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community banner

101 - 120 of 143 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,129 Posts
Well they certainly didn't contribute to the population being dead, did they? And it was more than 10 birds that you suggested that died or they wouldn't have been able to arrive at 48% right?
Discount it all you want. People can see for themselves that predation is not a non-existent as some want to portray it. We all know that if the info in this study supported your position, you'd be on here singing it's praises.

And I am NOT saying that is the main reason for the pop decline. IMHO, it the succession of cold and wet springs that we have had.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,115 Posts
I don't have a position.In order to have one,I would need solid evidence,which hasn't been provided.Without knowing how many hens died,the 48% is meaningless.We all know that some turkeys get eaten every year.Do enough get eaten by predators to impact the population?That's the question.My guess would be no but without some evidence,it's speculation at best.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,129 Posts
I'm pretty certain that the people at the PGC didn't think their work was meaningless when they conducted the study and posted the information. It is certainly far more meaningful than simply yours or my field observations can be. No study will ever be representative of the entirety of nature across the state. It's impossible. All studies do is provide information. This info provides that predation can be a significant factor. That's all. But 48% of known predation in a study is significant, regardless of your claims.
Instead of just taking veiled shots to discredit a study, why not look up some of the info that you are asking for and actually come on and prove to people why the study is meaningless. I didn't see any of your info when I looked. All I did was post the info that was there. Pretty easy to scoff without justifying it. State your data and let the people decide for themselves. I have questions also. How big was the study area? Did they transmit all hens in that area? How many other predation deaths were there that the study didn't account for? Lot's of questions.

One thing that I for sure agree with you about though is that a small amount of data is less creditable. That's why saving only 900 hens across the entire state by removing rifles is meaningless. Taking the rifle harvest info from a single year's worth of data to justify the move is meaningless. And being rubber stamped by people who are not biologists or statisticians is meaningless.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
14,047 Posts
Well they certainly didn't contribute to the population being dead, did they? And it was more than 10 birds that you suggested that died or they wouldn't have been able to arrive at 48% right?
Discount it all you want. People can see for themselves that predation is not a non-existent as some want to portray it. We all know that if the info in this study supported your position, you'd be on here singing it's praises.

And I am NOT saying that is the main reason for the pop decline. IMHO, it the succession of cold and wet springs that we have had.
I was one of those putting the transmitters on those hen turkeys and also one of the people going in to determine the cause of death when one went into mortality mode. So I suspect I have a bit more of a handle on it than some who simply read the final result of the study.

First of all there is a significant stress level put on wildlife when you capture, handle and put bands or a transmitter on it. That especially true with most bird species compared to most mammal species. That stress of being handled alone results in some wildlife dying within a few weeks of being captured.

Then add the fact that the transmitter used on turkeys is a small backpack type devise that is attached by using an elastic band that encircles both wings. I saw turkeys, especially with hens, that were so imbalanced once the transmitter was attached they were unable to fly and had to run away as they left. I suspect they learned to fly again when they became more used to the added weight and possible balance disposition of the new backpack but who knows how it effected them over the long term.

Many of the turkeys that were in mortality mode had been dead for a few days before we got to them. Since the transmitter only gave a location signal for about six hours and only every third day the window for tracking in on it was rather narrow. That meant that often by the time you found the remains you could tell that something had been eating it but it was not always possible to say that what had been eating it actually killed it instead of just scavenged it. I am pretty sure some of the exams got listed as a predation even though it might have been nothing more than a bird that died, perhaps from capture myopathy, and was simply scavenged instead of a predation loss. I also often wondered just how much that backpack might have slowed the turkey's ability to take flight when a predator was closing in on it. Did we set those turkeys up to be more prone to being a victim of predation?

Those are questions without an answer. But, I did notice that most of the predation cases came within the first few weeks of being handled and equipped with the transmitter.

I am not trying to discount the research of the mortality studies. They provide the best information we can get but that doesn't mean there isn't going to be a level of bias in the results sometimes. That is why it is important to redo some projects as better technology becomes available and also why good researchers know that sometimes their data can have a level of uncontrollably bias in the final results.

There was no question that hens became more vulnerable to predation while nesting and that the later into the incubation process the less likely she was to avoid an advancing predator. But, there is also no question, at least in my opinion, that predation was higher on the hens we handled and equipped with transmitters than there is on hens that had never been handled or so equipped.

Dick Bodenhorn
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,933 Posts
If predators are doing all this killings you shouldn't have any problem posting some pictures as evidence of it. It is time to either post up some evidence or stop with your never ending nonsense about it
Same can be said about all the supposed turkey and grouse being killed by WNV.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,933 Posts
That doesn't mean that 48% of hens are being killed by predation.It means of the hens that do die,48% are killed by predators.
Dont worry about the the percentage of hens being killed by predators in that study, but concentrate on if there is an increase in the number killed by predators. Predation rates on grouse remain unchanged. Yes, predators kill grouse, but the percentage hasnt changed in the past 50 years. That percentage of predator killed grouse in in the 40% range also, that is 40+% of grouse deaths are from predators, not 40+% of grouse are killed by predators, BIG difference.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,129 Posts
I was one of those putting the transmitters on those hen turkeys and also one of the people going in to determine the cause of death when one went into mortality mode. So I suspect I have a bit more of a handle on it than some who simply read the final result of the study.

First of all there is a significant stress level put on wildlife when you capture, handle and put bands or a transmitter on it. That especially true with most bird species compared to most mammal species. That stress of being handled alone results in some wildlife dying within a few weeks of being captured.

Then add the fact that the transmitter used on turkeys is a small backpack type devise that is attached by using an elastic band that encircles both wings. I saw turkeys, especially with hens, that were so imbalanced once the transmitter was attached they were unable to fly and had to run away as they left. I suspect they learned to fly again when they became more used to the added weight and possible balance disposition of the new backpack but who knows how it effected them over the long term.

Many of the turkeys that were in mortality mode had been dead for a few days before we got to them. Since the transmitter only gave a location signal for about six hours and only every third day the window for tracking in on it was rather narrow. That meant that often by the time you found the remains you could tell that something had been eating it but it was not always possible to say that what had been eating it actually killed it instead of just scavenged it. I am pretty sure some of the exams got listed as a predation even though it might have been nothing more than a bird that died, perhaps from capture myopathy, and was simply scavenged instead of a predation loss. I also often wondered just how much that backpack might have slowed the turkey's ability to take flight when a predator was closing in on it. Did we set those turkeys up to be more prone to being a victim of predation?

Those are questions without an answer. But, I did notice that most of the predation cases came within the first few weeks of being handled and equipped with the transmitter.

I am not trying to discount the research of the mortality studies. They provide the best information we can get but that doesn't mean there isn't going to be a level of bias in the results sometimes. That is why it is important to redo some projects as better technology becomes available and also why good researchers know that sometimes their data can have a level of uncontrollably bias in the final results.

There was no question that hens became more vulnerable to predation while nesting and that the later into the incubation process the less likely she was to avoid an advancing predator. But, there is also no question, at least in my opinion, that predation was higher on the hens we handled and equipped with transmitters than there is on hens that had never been handled or so equipped.

Dick Bodenhorn
For not trying to discount the research, you did a pretty good job of it.

If the exact cause of mortality was not able to be determined, why was one assigned? There is an unknown column. Was this hen study conducted only in your former area, or was it statewide conducted by others as well?

Does the PGC always post study data with info that incomplete and not exactly
determined? Because if they do, it raises even more questions in my mind.

And finally, if you participated in this study by your own admission, that established that turkeys are in fact killed by predators, then how do you come on here scoffing at others for saying that it happens? Because from an outsider who wasn't in that initial debate it sure looked like some of the same old heels dug in "yes they do, no they don't" stuff.

I wish I was in the habit of carrying a camera wit me at all times. I would post some pics of turkey carcasses hanging in tree limbs that I have found that sure looked to me like an avian predator killed them and ate them.

And again, I am not saying on here that predation is the cause of the turkey decline.

But I do get entirely fed up with current and former PGC employees saying that hunters don't know what they are talking about when the hunters have no choice but to sit back and get force fed some of these stupid decisions that get made - ie. removal of rifles, but no other meaningful changes being made.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
14,047 Posts
There was a column for unknown cause of death and also for unknown cause of predation. But, that answer was subject to investigation and interpretation by those finding the carcass. So, I am sure mistakes were made. I saw where a predation and what species was involved got recorded based on the evidence of a mammals scat being found nearby. scat is evidence the mammal was present but not necessarily that that animal was the cause of death.

There were two different study areas like size within the state. One was WMUs 2F, 2H and 2G while the other was in several WMU in the southcentral part of the state. I don't remember without looking it up which WMU were in the other study area but that should be found in the report you referenced.

They report the best known facts and result of the various research done. Biologists and other researchers always know that there will sometimes be a level of unintended bias within the results though and take that into account when making management decisions and also when trying to set up their next research to try to reduce any future unintended bias.

Dick Bodenhorn
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,647 Posts
I don't have a position.In order to have one,I would need solid evidence,which hasn't been provided.Without knowing how many hens died,the 48% is meaningless.We all know that some turkeys get eaten every year.Do enough get eaten by predators to impact the population?That's the question.My guess would be no but without some evidence,it's speculation at best.
You should take this up with the PGC....it's their info. and I've been told they're way ahead of us.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,115 Posts
Dont worry about the the percentage of hens being killed by predators in that study, but concentrate on if there is an increase in the number killed by predators. Predation rates on grouse remain unchanged. Yes, predators kill grouse, but the percentage hasnt changed in the past 50 years. That percentage of predator killed grouse in in the 40% range also, that is 40+% of grouse deaths are from predators, not 40+% of grouse are killed by predators, BIG difference.
That's the exact point that I'm trying to make.Without knowing how many hens died,the 48% means nothing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,115 Posts
You should take this up with the PGC....it's their info. and I've been told they're way ahead of us.
I have nothing to take up with the PGC.I feel the seasons and bag limits are fair and make sense,which is all they really have control over.I haven't seen a major decrease in the population and any decrease I see,I attribute to cold,wet springs.I see it as a fluctuation but I also see turkey habits change as habitat conditions change.A good spot one year may not be a good spot in 10 years and there's not much the PGC can do about that.In the fall I search for food sources which can change by the week and in the spring I generally concentrate on good nesting areas because that's where I'll find the hens.Those areas also change over time.I don't discount that predators kill turkeys or any game for than matter but once again,there's nothing the PGC can do about it.I don't whine or complain about a lack of deer or turkeys.I personally this both species offer world class hunting these daysI'll take these days over when I started in 1980 any day..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,647 Posts
I have nothing to take up with the PGC.I feel the seasons and bag limits are fair and make sense,which is all they really have control over.I haven't seen a major decrease in the population and any decrease I see,I attribute to cold,wet springs.I see it as a fluctuation but I also see turkey habits change as habitat conditions change.A good spot one year may not be a good spot in 10 years and there's not much the PGC can do about that.In the fall I search for food sources which can change by the week and in the spring I generally concentrate on good nesting areas because that's where I'll find the hens.Those areas also change over time.I don't discount that predators kill turkeys or any game for than matter but once again,there's nothing the PGC can do about it.I don't whine or complain about a lack of deer or turkeys.I personally this both species offer world class hunting these daysI'll take these days over when I started in 1980 any day..
Just because you don't see an alarming decrease in birds in your corner of the world doesn't mean it's not happening elsewhere. I'm not talking about a dip in population and I'm not talking about small areas. When someone who spends a lot of time in the woods over a big area notices a huge decrease in birds over a huge, once very well populated area, it's "whining" to bring that to the attention to our game keepers and ask questions?

If you have plenty of game, good for you. Not all areas of this state are seeing this drastic decrease, but in the areas that it occurred, it happen rather quickly, like five years. I suspect disease has played a big part when it happens that fast. I can guess all I want, but I'm not a biologist and I'm not in charge of looking into such things. I (We) do pay people to do that and I think asking questions of them is our duty.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,115 Posts
I also hunt a huge area that spans three counties and see plenty of areas where I hunt dry up from time to time.Usually there's a logical reason and I've never seen where the PGC is responsible.In almost every case it's related to food sources or habitat so I make adjustments.Figuring out the relationship game has with the habitat is what keeps it fun for me.In any event,I've never seen any evidence that predation is the primary cause.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,513 Posts
I have noticed that the lack of turkeys coincidentally coincides with the timbering of parcels. Everyone wants money from the land, and fuel for their wood stoves. You take away ALL the mature trees and you remove great roosting areas. They seem to relocate to better parcels after that. The land all around me has all been timbered over the years and I saw fewer and fewer birds as the years went by as the timbering went on.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
14,047 Posts
Just because you don't see an alarming decrease in birds in your corner of the world doesn't mean it's not happening elsewhere. I'm not talking about a dip in population and I'm not talking about small areas. When someone who spends a lot of time in the woods over a big area notices a huge decrease in birds over a huge, once very well populated area, it's "whining" to bring that to the attention to our game keepers and ask questions?

If you have plenty of game, good for you. Not all areas of this state are seeing this drastic decrease, but in the areas that it occurred, it happen rather quickly, like five years. I suspect disease has played a big part when it happens that fast. I can guess all I want, but I'm not a biologist and I'm not in charge of looking into such things. I (We) do pay people to do that and I think asking questions of them is our duty.
The Game Commission has done turkey mortality studies on both gobblers and hens in recent years. So, yes they have looked at what causes turkey mortality and to what extent.

The Game Commission has also been monitoring hen and turkey brood percentages for ever county and WMU for many decades now. Over the past four years they even expanded to that to obtain turkey numbers for both sexes and age classes over a two month period for each WMU each summer. So, they have a pretty good handle on amount of population change for both hens and gobblers over extended periods of time.

The Game Commission has been looking at and conducting research on the possibility of West Nile and other diseases that could be affecting turkey populations. So, even though much of that is inconclusive at this point in time they haven't been just sitting on their hands saying oh well, as you seem to be implying.

What they do know is that we have had a series of many years now with extremely wet springs. They also know that wet spring and summer conditions kill a lot of the poults after they hatch. They, and everyone who thinks it through for a bite, know that when you have multiple years of poor recruitment of the newest population you start getting a compounding affect of population decline. So, they know that one MAJOR reason for the turkey population decline is from weather factors of which they have ZERO control.

Turkey research and population monitoring is ongoing and will continue to provide valuable information.

Do tell us just what more you think they could or should be doing.

Since the topic of the hen mortality study came up in the discussions last night I am going to post a link to that hen mortality study. Everyone interested should read it.

PENNSYLVANIA GAME COMMISSION (pa.gov)

Dick Bodenhorn
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,933 Posts
I have noticed that the lack of turkeys coincidentally coincides with the timbering of parcels. Everyone wants money from the land, and fuel for their wood stoves. You take away ALL the mature trees and you remove great roosting areas. They seem to relocate to better parcels after that. The land all around me has all been timbered over the years and I saw fewer and fewer birds as the years went by as the timbering went on.
Turkey also need young cover to raise their broods in with the lack of a shrub layer we currently have in our forests. I guarantee you, you still have plenty of roosting cover all around you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,115 Posts
Turkey also need young cover to raise their broods in with the lack of a shrub layer we currently have in our forests. I guarantee you, you still have plenty of roosting cover all around you.
I was gonna say the same thing.I see some of my favorite spring hunting spots dry up when the clearcuts turn into pole timber.Gobblers can be found in the spring where hens are and hens will be found near good nesting areas.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
162 Posts
Just an observation. Years back it was rare to hear of anyone calling in a 4 legged predator with a turkey call. Today it seems that it is fairly common.
My Dad was pounced by a bobcat about 20 years ago in Tioga Co calling turkeys. He had crawled up to a field edge, was laying on his belly calling to a flock of birds out in the field. After a few soft calls he knew something was behind him. As he slowly turned his head the bobcat pounced, his mesh face mask likely saved his eye.

I started tagging along with my Dad and uncles turkey hunting at a very young age (5-7) in my 20+ springs of turkey hunting I have seen 4 legged predators called in almost every spring. Most frequently gray fox, but maybe 5 coyotes, a bobcat, several bear etc. In my experience it is not happening anymore than it did 15-20 years ago.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,664 Posts
I've call a few foxes in as well as humans. The second scares me. The "Big Woods" has to have cover and food or I believe turkey populations drop. Hard to find this any more except in spotty locations. Weather and habitat, I believe, take more turkeys than hunters will ever do in all parts of the states. No gradual ecotones any more. Turkeys need them as well as grouse. Can't go to straight open woods to fields and not get picked off..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,115 Posts
Maybe predators don't like the way I call turkeys but the only time I had a coyote come in to my calls was around 1990.First coyote I ever saw.I've called in a fox a couple of times and a couple of bears.
 
101 - 120 of 143 Posts
Top