Kathy Brautigum, a graduate assistant and candidate for the master of science in forest resources degree at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, has received a grant to present research findings to a joint meeting of the American Ornithologists Union, the Cooper Ornithological Society, and the Society of Canadian Ornithologists in Estes Park, Colorado.
Brautigam will present findings from a research project that examines the effects of supplemental deer feeders on the fate of artificial ground nests.
Dr. Douglas Osborne, assistant professor of forest resources specializing in wildlife ecology and management, is the principal investigator on the project, which is being conducted in collaboration with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
As part of the research, Brautigam is creating artificial ground turkey nests using chicken eggs to investigate the impact of active deer feeders during the primary turkey nesting season on the survival rates of artificial ground nests.
Supplemental deer feeders have become a popular management tool used by private land managers to influence the distribution of deer during hunting season. However, it has become common practice for deer feeders to remain active year-round. Deer feeders are known to attract many non-target species, and in some cases this supplemental food source may facilitate population growth of some species of mid-sized predators such as raccoons.
Brautigam and Osborne’s research will address a growing concern among wildlife professionals that year-round feeding of deer may negatively impact nest survival rates of ground nesting birds, including wild turkeys.