Researchers have extensively used mark–recapture techniques to obtain information on demographic parameters of wildlife populations. However, researchers have recognized that a number of factors can influence capture probabilities of wildlife species, which in turn can bias mark–recapture estimates of demographic parameters. Tooth extraction, which is a commonly used technique in studies of mesopredator species to obtain precise age estimates and to monitor the use of vaccine baits, is an aspect of animal handling that clearly might affect the recapture probability of individuals. However, the effect that tooth removal has on the individual recapture probabilities of wildlife species is unknown. During 2005, we trapped and marked 91 raccoons (Procyon lotor) in northern Indiana, USA, as part of a mark–recapture study designed specifically to determine if tooth extractions have an effect on recapture probabilities of individuals. We performed tooth extractions on 50% of the raccoons at the time of capture, and we attempted to balance tooth extractions with respect to sex and age of raccoons. We used logistic regression to model the effects of sex, age, and tooth removal on recapture probabilities, and we used Mann–Whitney U-tests to examine the effect of tooth removal on the number of times we recaptured individuals. The probability of recapture differed between sexes but did not differ as a function of tooth removal or among age classes. In addition, we failed to detect any difference in the mean number of times that we recaptured raccoons between the tooth removed and non–tooth-removed groups. Our results suggest that managers can use tooth extractions as an effective management tool without biasing population estimates or compromising other management objectives.
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Vol. 71 • No. 1