Effects of diversionary feeding on raccoon foraging behavior in southwestern Georgia
Storey, Theresa Harper
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Raccoons are a predator of many ground-nesting species. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of diversionary feeding on raccoon behavior. We provided supplemental food to radio-collared raccoons and monitored control raccoons during spring-summer 1999 and 2000. Raccoons were radio-tracked during prefeeding periods to allow comparisons of foraging behavior during feeding periods. Diversionary feeding did not affect home range size, dispersal of locations, average distances between animal locations and feeder-sites, average distance between animal locations and roads, habitat use, or habitat selection. We observed increased movement rates in fed raccoons in 1999 and 2000, which indicates that supplemental food may have altered raccoon foraging behavior. Because other aspects of raccoon behavior were unaffected, we believe that native food abundance may not be the limiting factor on our study area. We recommend further research into the effects of diversionary feeding in areas where food is less abundant.