Population Characteristics and Harvest Relationships of a Raccoon Population in East Tennessee

Controlled hunting (9-night season) and livetrapping of raccoons (Procyon lotor) on the Chuck Swan Wildlife Management Area was assessed in relation to total harvest, age and sex characteristics, reproductive parameters, and density estimates. From 1976 to 1978 hunting pressure and hunting success remained relatively constant while the total harvest decreased at an average of 23% annually from 175 (1975) to 80 (1978). Seventy-five, 69 and 69% of the 1976, 1977, and 1978 harvests were juveniles suggesting a greater vulnerability compared to adults; this occurrence also may be related to dispersal or other factors. Reproductive data did not appear to compensate for high harvest and may be related to the quality of the upland hardwood habitat areas of the southern Appalachians. Tag return ratios in the harvest (Lincoln Index) yielded an estimated density of 1 raccoon per 23.1-27.5 ha. Thirty-four (30.4%) of the trapped raccoons (112) were harvested in 1976, 11 in 1977 and 4 in 1978. The total harvest in 1976 comprised between 31.2% and 37.2% of the estimated population and appeared too high to permit sustained yields. These harvest and density relationships may be indicative of other upland hardwood habitats and necessitate more restrictive management procedures.

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