Space Use and Movements of Raccoons in Two Forested Ecosystems

Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are important furbearers that generate considerable income and recreation across the southeastern United States. Growing concerns about impacts of raccoons on wildlife populations necessitates sound information on raccoon behavior and population dynamics. Forest management has changed throughout the southeastern United States due to increased demands for wood fiber and changing land-use objectives on public lands. However, little research has examined potential influences of forest management strategies on raccoon ranging behavior, particularly within intensively managed forests. We examined spatial use patterns and movements of 118 radio-marked raccoons on 2 areas in central Mississippi during 1996-97. The Tallahala Wildlife Management Area (TWMA) was managed by the U.S. Forest Service for multiple use, whereas the Timber Company lands (TC) were managed intensively for wood fiber production. Raccoons on TWMA maintained larger home ranges and core areas (P<0.05), and moved at greater rates, than raccoons on TC. Forest management strategies likely influence ranging behavior of raccoons, particulary across intensively managed landscapes. We suggest land managers consider influences of differing forest management strategies on how raccoons establish ranges and subsequently travel within southeastern landscapes.

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