Nightly and seasonal movements, seasonal home range, and focal location photo-monitoring of urban striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis): Implications for rabies transmission

Mark D. Weissinger, Tad C. Theimer, David L. Bergman, Thomas J. Deliberto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

We followed radio-collared striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) from January 2004December 2005 in two urban areas of Flagstaff, Arizona, USA to determine seasonal patterns of movement and home-range size. We also used automated cameras to determine the potential for inter- and intraspecific interaction at skunks' diurnal resting sites and nocturnal focal locations. We found no difference between sexes in nightly rates of travel or in size of seasonal home range. Nightly rates of travel were greatest in the postbreeding months (May-July) and smallest from November to February, consistent with larger home ranges (95% kernel estimates) from March-August and smaller home ranges from September-February. Sixty-three percent of monitored males and 38% of monitored females crossed the urban-wildland interface, in at least one direction on at least one night, and some remained outside the urban area for days or weeks, indicating that skunks could act as vectors of disease across the urban-wildland interface. We recorded co-occurrence of skunks with domestic cats (Felis domesticus), raccoons (Procyon lotor), gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), and other skunks at focal locations and diurnal retreats used by skunks, suggesting these areas are potential sites for both inter- and intraspecific rabies transmission and could be targeted by wildlife managers during trapping or vaccination programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-397
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of wildlife diseases
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2009

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Keywords

  • Mephitis mephitis
  • Photo-monitoring
  • Rabies
  • Radio telemetry
  • Spillover
  • Striped skunk
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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