Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

Joseph D. Clark

Committee Members

William H. Stiver, Lisa I. Muller

Abstract

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (BISO) need efficient feral swine (Sus scrofa) management programs. From April 2015 through September 2018, we trapped, anesthetized and fitted 48 individual feral swine (GRSM, n = 38; BISO, n = 10) with Global Positioning System (GPS) collars. I estimated movements, habitat use, and distribution of feral swine based on >200,000 GPS locations. I used those data to develop a Mahalanobis distance model to predict relative probability of use based on 7 landscape variables. I also evaluated stable isotopes in tooth enamel for estimating the proportion of feral swine in GRSM that consumed anthropogenic diets (e.g., corn) as neonates as a tool to assess the impact of human-mediated augmentations from outside park boundaries. Finally, I evaluated a three-drug combination of butorphanol, azaperone, and medetomidine (BAMTM; Wildlife Pharmaceuticals, Fort Collins, CO, USA) for immobilizing trapped adult feral swine. Male home range sizes in GRSM and BISO were more than twice those of females. Feral swine in GRSM showed a preference for low to mid-elevations with sunny (generally southerly) aspects in the vicinity of water. At BISO, feral swine displayed a strong preference for water at lower elevations but in more shaded aspects. Stable isotope analysis revealed that early diets of domesticated swine had distinctly different carbon ratios from feral swine in GRSM but no feral swine demonstrated a neonate diet of corn. I found BAMTM to be satisfactory for use in collaring and sampling adult feral swine in the field, but I suggest a 50% increase in the initial dose (to 0.9 mg/kg butorphanol, 0.3 mg/kg azaperone, 0.3 mg/kg medetomidine) from what is typically recommended for domestic swine.

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