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Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

Effects of Northern Bobwhite Management on Raccoon Abundance, Habitat Selection, and Home Range in Southwest Missouri

  • January 7, 2013
  • by Jacob Cody McClain

Habitat management has become vital for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) conservation. In Missouri, efforts to conserve remaining populations on public lands have included the use of two management models. The Intensive Management Model (IMM) promotes hard edges, by creating a juxtaposition of different habitat types, while the Extensive Management Model (EMM) maintains a grassland-dominated landscape through the processes of fire and grazing. Preliminary results suggest that bobwhite success is significantly higher on EMM sites than IMM sites. Management efforts through IMM may be hindered by unintentionally managing for nest predators like raccoons (Procyon lotor). Nest predators may forage more often in northern bobwhite nesting habitat under IMM than EMM because grassland fields are smaller, and woody edge and corridors are abundant. The habitat diversity created by IMM may allow for larger populations of nest predators when compared with EMM. I used camera traps and GPS-collars to investigate how IMM and EMM effect 1) the mesopredator community structure, 2) raccoon abundance and density, 3) raccoon habitat use, and 4) raccoon home range. I estimated that raccoon densities were 9.9 and 5.6 per km2 for the two IMM sites and 7.2 and 2.6 per km2 at the two EMM sites and I found no clear relationship between treatments. Raccoon densities may be influenced by percent timber and woodland of the area rather than the management model itself. I found that the median distance from a woody edge into open habitats like grasslands of IMM site raccoons was greater than that of EMM site raccoons. I found that IMM site raccoons used tree lines, fencerows, timber-grassland edges, woody draws, and shrub-scrub-grassland edges as movement corridors while EMM site raccoons used woody draws, and shrub-scrub-grassland edges. I found that IMM site raccoons used grasslands, where the majority of northern bobwhite nests occur, proportional to availability, while EMM site raccoons avoided grasslands. Managers can possibly reduce nest encounter rates by raccoons through reduction in timber-patch sizes, removal of movement corridors, and increase grassland patch sizes.

PUBLICATION AVAILABLE AT: https://scholarworks.uark.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=4009&context=etd