We used indices of animal control reports per capita and areas of land covers to assess the relative habitat-use of raccoons (Procyon lotor), opossums (Didelphis virginiana), skunks (Spilogale putorius and Mephitis mephitis), and foxes (Vulpes vulpes and Urocyon cinereoargenteus). We used confirmed (hereafter, verified) calls made to Brevard Animal Services, Florida, and assessed potential human demographic influences associated with unconfirmed (hereafter, unverified) reports where it was uncertain whether or not an animal was present. To estimate habitat use, we performed quadrat sampling using a geographic information system (GIS) and obtained areas of land cover within each quadrat. We evaluated numbers of confirmed animals per capita against areas of land cover in a quadrat using Forward Logistic Regression and Stepwise Multiple Linear Regression analyses. Our results indicate that raccoons were positively associated with a mixture of populated areas near streams and negatively associated with wetland forests, shrub and brushland, and tree crops. Opossums were positively associated with a mixture of row crops, bays and estuaries, highdensity residential areas, and streams, while negatively associated with golf courses and lowdensity residential areas. Skunks were associated with a mixture of residential, institutional, and recreational areas, roads, pastures, and wetlands with some forest cover near water. Foxes were positively associated with open agricultural- and industrial-use areas often located near bays and estuaries, and negatively associated with golf courses, extraction sites, and shrub and brushland areas. On a landscape level, animal groups selected certain land cover categories and did not use land covers based on availability. If care is taken to remove potential biases, verified animal control reports can be used as a low-cost, opportunistic method to determine where raccoons, opossums, skunks, and foxes are located in urban areas. Using verified animal control reports appears promising for identifying areas where raccoons, opossums, skunks, and foxes are located in urban areas.
Klinkowski-Clark, Christine; Kutilek, Michael J.; Matson, John O.; Messina, Paula; Earley, Kevin; and Bros-Seemann, Shannon M.
"Estimating Relative Distribution of Raccoons, Opossums, Skunks, and Foxes Using Animal Control Data,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 4
, Article 6.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol4/iss1/6