Tim S. Wilson
Title of study - Raccoon and opossum home ranges, movements, and habitat use in a managed forest of central Mississippi
Date of thesis - December 1996
Raccoons (Procyon lotor) and opossums (Didelphis virginiana) have been identified as primary predators of wild turkey eggs and poults. However, little is known about the complex relationship between raccoon and opossum movements, habitat use, and wild turkey reproduction. Fifty-four raccoons and 17 opossums were radio-instrumented and monitored from 1 February 1994 to 1 March 1996 on Tallahala Wildlife Management Area, Bienville National Forest, Mississippi. Home ranges were larger for male raccoons (343.13 ha) than females (239.15 ha). Composite home range for male opossums (102.13 ha) were larger than females (72.52 ha). Movement rates for raccoons were greatest during the night. Movement rates for opossums were greatest during crepuscular morning period. Weather had no significant (P > 0.05) effect on movement rates for either raccoons or opossums. Male and female raccoons used (P > 0.05) mature, mixed (pine and hardwood) forests greater than their availability within their home range. Opossums used (P > 0.05) mature, bottomland hardwood forests greater than their availability within their home range. Raccoon and opossum movements were uncorrelated with turkey nesting habitat selection during the wild turkey pre-nesting, nesting, or post-nesting periods. Management recommendations to encourage/discourage raccoon and opossum habitat use area included.