Date of Award
Master of Science
Wildlife and Fisheries Science
Michael R. Pelton
Boyd L. Dearden, Ralph W. Dimmick, Leon Potgieter
Population estimates and visitation rates of raccoons to scent- stations were compared for 2 study areas (control = 2588 ha; experimental = 2545 ha) on Chuck Swan Wildlife Management Area (CSWMA), Tennessee. Live trapping and scent-station data were collected from 5 July 1983 to 29 July 1985, during which time 3 nights (November - December, 1984) of managed raccoon hunting were conducted throughout the 9872 ha CSWMA peninsula, exclusive of the control area. Data also were collected during the 3-night, 1985 CSWMA raccoon hunting season. In 6400 trapnights, 825 raccoon captures represented 328 individuals (1 raccoon/7.76 trapnights). Trapping success was significantly greater in the control area (17.39%) than in the experimental area (12.83%) (P<0.001). Seventy-nine raccoons were harvested in 1984 from all hunted compartments at a party success rate of 74%. Hunters harvested 39 raccoons in the experimental area in 1984 and 29 in 1985. The success of hunting parties was not related to the trapping success by compartment (P=0.20); however, there was a relationship between the average number of hectares available to a hunting party and their success (P<0.003). The Jolly-Seber (J-S) and Petersen-II estimators were both influenced by heterogeneity of capture. Generally, higher estimates of raccoon density were produced for the control area than for the experimental area by all estimators. J-S estimates, which allow for recruitment, were the most robust for the fall raccoon population on CSWMA; CAPTURE's model Mₕ produced more robust spring estimates. Fall density estimates, pooled across both areas, ranged from 1 raccoon/19.4 ha (1983) to 1 raccoon/11.6 ha (1984). Spring densities ranged from 1 raccoon/17.9 ha (1984) to 1 raccoon/14.3 ha (1985). In the experimental area the 1984 raccoon harvest comprised 15-24% of the Fall 1984 population. During 25 months from 1983-85, 13 (52%) scent-station surveys were completed. Scent-station visitation by raccoons in the control area (5.02%) was not significantly higher than in the experimental area (4.07%) (P>0.50). After the 1984 raccoon harvest monthly visitation to scent-stations was 92% higher in the experimental than had occurred prior to these hunts. Maximum and minimum visitation in both areas occurred during summer and winter, respectively. However, neither season nor year were related to visitation rates. Within the control area higher visitation occurred in regions which experienced more raccoon captures/recaptures. This relationship did not occur in the experimental area. Population estimates were not related to visitation rates of raccoons to scent-stations in either the control area (P=.62) or the experimental area (P=0.58). Impact of a harvest on the CSWMA raccoon population was minimized through a reduced season length and use of a controlled harvest strategy. The role of hunter density on harvest success should be investigated through further research. Limited visitation to scent- stations rendered these surveys ineffective as a raccoon index for east Tennessee.
Kocka, David M., "An evaluation of population estimators, densities, and scent-station indices of a raccoon population in East Tennessee. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 1987.