Many studies have been conducted on the ecology of raccoons (Procyon lotor), while few have examined raccoon den-site selection, particularly in agricultural and prairie landscapes. Furthermore, no studies have examined selection of den sites at multiple spatial scales. We examined den-site selection for 48 raccoons during 1997–1999 in an agricultural landscape in the Black Prairie physiographic region of east-central Mississippi, USA. Den types selected by raccoons differed by gender and season. Females used more cavity dens during young rearing, whereas males selected ground dens and brush piles. We found that den sites were located closer to crop fields, roads, and macrohabitat edges than random points. At the landscape level, den sites were associated positively with woody patch size, amounts of woody and grass edge, number of available patches of crop fields, and available area of lakes and ponds. Composition of habitats around den sites differed from composition of habitats within home ranges, and this difference also was noted by gender. Female raccoons selected crop fields, whereas males selected lakes/ponds relative to composition of habitats within their respective home ranges. Our results indicate the importance of tree cavities to females during young rearing, particularly on prairie landscapes. Furthermore, our findings suggest that on prairie landscapes, availability of foraging habitat and water may influence den-site selection. We suggest that raccoons select den sites based on a perceived arrangement of required resources and that landscape configuration is important in the den-selection process. Additionally, our findings offer evidence that managers may selectively remove den sites as a nonlethal means of managing predation by raccoons.
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Vol. 68 • No. 1