Factors Affecting Scent Station Visitation Rates of Raccoons and Bobcats

Scent stations are assumed to be a simple and economical method to index furbearer populations, but recent literature challenges the reliability of this technique. We examined several variables that could affect visitation rates of 2 commonly indexed species. Raccoon (Procyon lotor) and bobcat (Felis rufus) visitation rates of scent stations were monitored on the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge in western Tennessee during summer and fall 1991. Factors tested included placement from water and roads, attractant type, and within-habitat variability of scent-station visitation rates. Placement of scent stations near water (≤10 m) increased visitation rates of raccoons. Attractant type (visual vs. olfactory) did not affect visitation rates of bobcats or raccoons regarding visual attraction to a scent station. Differences existed between sites within a habitat for raccoons. Variability did not increase with increasing visitation rates in raccoons and showed only a slight positive slope in bobcats. Reliability of scent station indices may depend on random locations and optimal placements and will require standardization of techniques for each species.

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