Invasive wild pigs as primary nest predators for wild turkeys.
Depredation of wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) nests is a leading cause of reduced recruitment for the recovering and iconic game species. Invasive wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are known to depredate nests, and have been expanding throughout the distributed range of wild turkeys in North America. We sought to gain better insight on the magnitude of wild pigs depredating wild turkey nests. We constructed simulated wild turkey nests throughout the home ranges of 20 GPS-collared wild pigs to evaluate nest depredation relative to three periods within the nesting season (i.e., early, peak, and late) and two nest densities (moderate = 12.5-25 nests/km2, high = 25-50 nests/km2) in south-central Texas, USA during March-June 2016. Overall, the estimated probability of nest depredation by wild pigs was 0.3, equivalent to native species of nest predators in the study area (e.g., gray fox [Urocyon cinereoargenteus], raccoon [Procyon lotor], and coyote [Canis latrans]). Female wild pigs exhibited a constant rate of depredation regardless of nesting period or density of nests. However, male wild pigs increased their rate of depredation in areas with higher nest densities. Management efforts should remove wild pigs to reduce nest failure in wild turkey populations especially where recruitment is low.