A Comparison of Attractants Used for Carnivore Track Surveys

Scent-station surveys have been used to examine trends in felid and canid abundance throughout the Southeast. Scent station methods have been developed on the presumption that canids rely on olfactory stimuli and that bobcats (Lynx rufus) rely on sight and auditory stimuli. No studies have quantified the effects of various olfactory, auditory, and visual stimuli on scent-station visitation by bobcats and canids; however, such information could improve the effectiveness and ability of scent-station surveys. We established scent stations and track transects in intensively managed pine forests in east-central Mississippi from August 1989-May 1991 to evaluate the effectiveness of 4 attractants for eliciting response from 3 carnivores. We randomly allocated synthetic fatty acid scent, bobcat urine, an auditory stimulus, a visual stimulus, and a control to stations at monthly intervals. Greatest bobcat visitation rates occurred at stations with audio attractants, whereas greatest coyote (Canis latrans) visitation rates occurred at stations with fatty acid scent and bobcat urine. Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) visitation rates were equally great at stations with fatty acid scent, bobcat urine, or audio attractants. An extremely low number of visits by bobcats in our study suggests that more sensitive techniques may be required to adequately index trends in bobcat relative abundance. Fatty acid scent and bobcat urine appeared to elicit greatest responses from coyotes and gray fox. Additionally, our data indicated that transects may be an alternative method to index bobcat, coyote, and gray fox populations relative to scent stations.

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