Complaints of agricultural damage by wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), particularly from wine grape growers, have increased in California. We assessed damage by vertebrate pests in vineyards and tested a bioacoustic-aversion technique for turkeys as an alternative to other control techniques (e.g., reflective tape, trapping, bird netting). We selected 12 vineyards in the Napa Valley and Sierra Foothills American Viticultural Areas of California. We conducted damage surveys to assess percentages of missing or damaged grapes (i.e., grapes that had been stripped, pecked, and plucked) for every grape cluster on 20 randomly-selected vines before harvest in 2007 and on 40 vines in 2008. We assumed that all observed damage was caused by vertebrate pests and that most of this damage was caused by birds. Grape damage caused by wild turkeys was identified by contiguous sections of berries plucked from a cluster, which we referred to as stripped damage. We attributed pecked and plucked damage to passerines. In 2008, we randomly selected 3 vineyards in each area for treatment with broadcast calls (wild turkey alarm, domestic turkey alarm, crow distress). We used motion-activated video cameras to document evidence of damage caused by turkeys and other animals. Damage in the vineyard perimeter was greater than in the interior for all damage types in 2008, but only for plucked damage in 2007. In 2008, stripped, pecked, and plucked damage means for treated vineyards were 1.3%, 1.4%, and 1.5%, respectively; stripped, pecked, and plucked damage means for untreated vineyards were 1.3%, 0.7%, and 0.2%, respectively. There was no difference in mean stripped damage between treated and untreated vineyards in 2008, indicating that broadcast calls had no effect. Comparison between treated sites in 2008 with the same untreated sites in 2007 yielded similar results. Turkeys caused damage in several of the study vineyards, but the problem varied among vineyards and was inconsistent between years. Motion-activated video recordings suggested that raccoons (Procyon lotor), gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), and other vertebrate pests were to blame for some of the stripped damage.
Coates, Robert W.; Delwiche, Michael J.; Gorenzel, W. Paul; and Salmon, Terrell P.
"Evaluation of Damage by Vertebrate Pests in California Vineyards and Control of Wild Turkeys by Bioacoustics,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 4
, Article 16.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol4/iss1/16