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Raccoon Spatial Requirements and Multi-Scale Habitat Selection within an Intensively Managed Central Appalachian Forest

Owen, Sheldon F., Berl, Jacob L., Edwards, John W., Ford, W. Mark, Wood, Petra Bohall
The American midland naturalist 2015 v.174 no.1 pp. 87-95
Procyon lotor, females, foraging, habitats, hardwood forests, home range, intensive forestry, males, riparian areas, seasons, trees, Appalachian region, West Virginia
We studied a raccoon (Procyon lotor) population within a managed central Appalachian hardwood forest in West Virginia to investigate the effects of intensive forest management on raccoon spatial requirements and habitat selection. Raccoon home-range (95% utilization distribution) and core-area (50% utilization distribution) size differed between sexes with males maintaining larger (2×) home ranges and core areas than females. Home-range and core-area size did not differ between seasons for either sex. We used compositional analysis to quantify raccoon selection of six different habitat types at multiple spatial scales. Raccoons selected riparian corridors (riparian management zones [RMZ]) and intact forests (> 70 y old) at the core-area spatial scale. RMZs likely were used by raccoons because they provided abundant denning resources (i.e., large-diameter trees) as well as access to water. Habitat composition associated with raccoon foraging locations indicated selection for intact forests, riparian areas, and regenerating harvest (stands <10 y old). Although raccoons were able to utilize multiple habitat types for foraging resources, a selection of intact forest and RMZs at multiple spatial scales indicates the need of mature forest (with large-diameter trees) for this species in managed forests in the central Appalachians.