Advisors: Dr. Clay Nielsen
Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are mesopredators distributed across the entire continental United States. They are opportunistic omnivores which forage on anthropogenic food sources in urban and suburban areas where they are considered chronic nuisance animals. Raccoons are also major predators of many ground-nesting species, contributing to the extirpation of some species in areas where raccoon predation goes unchecked.
For raccoons, predator removal has commonly been investigated as a predator control strategy to increase survival of vulnerable populations. The results of these studies suggest predator removal to be an effective approach, significantly reducing predation and increasing nest survival of Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin), American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliates), and Blanding’s Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii).
While studies have shown success of predator control directly after removal, few have assessed the long-term effects and efficacy of removal. My study will provide camera trap data before, during, and after raccoon removal to obtain raccoon abundance, changes in occupancy, and assist in determining the efficacy and long-term feasibility of raccoon removal programs. My study will help wildlife management agencies effectively use predator removal methods to aid in the conservation of vulnerable prey species, disease control, and management of human-wildlife conflicts.