This Turkey Tuesday is about predators, in this case raccoons, which are an important nest predator of wild turkeys. Sometimes I’m asked about habitat issues facing wild turkeys, and I’ve often stated that in some ways, we’ve created landscapes that work in the favor of predators and against wild turkeys. Specifically, as our landscapes become more fragmented, predators like raccoons that hunt using their noses can efficiently hunt along openings, rights-of-way, roads, and other linear features. These images show what that looks like for radio-collared raccoons. The second image shows the nightly foraging path of a male raccoon monitored every 20 minutes from just before dark until daylight. The circles show locations where the raccoon exhibited area restricted searching – meaning, he intensively used those areas, which only cover <200 yards. The third image shows foraging paths of 4 raccoons – note that several of them are associated with these linear features and show how raccoons could use them to search for prey within their ranges. Research has shown that in many landscapes, most turkey nests are found within 100 yards of some type of edge. So, it’s easy to see how critters like raccoons may have the advantage when hunting along simple, linear edges where they can move quickly and use their noses to alert them that supper is nearby. The take home is, we often think about managing habitats to benefit turkeys, when we should also consider how management may influence critters that eat turkeys and their nests.
Photo of wild turkey and raccoon © Tes Randle Jolly