Determining presence or absence of collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu) from surveys of sign (tracks and feces) requires information on whether animals in sample units are detected. We estimated detection probabilities of collared peccary from sign surveys using occupancy models. Because it was unlikely that residence status of collared peccary in sampling units remained the same over a survey season, which is a primary assumption of occupancy models, we first determined the time interval for which to pool data. We then examined the influence of rainfall and peccary abundance on detection probabilities. We placed 90 sign stations (25-m-diam circular plots) throughout Chaparral Wildlife Management Area, south Texas, USA. We surveyed plots weekly for the presence or non-presence of collared peccary during 2 11-week sampling seasons in spring and fall 2003. We examined sign data weekly and we pooled the data in intervals from 2 weeks to 5 weeks. Estimates of detection probabilities increased from 1 week to 3 weeks of pooled data and leveled off thereafter. We needed a 3-week time interval to meet the assumption of unchanging residence status. Using sign data pooled in 3-week increments, detection probabilities were influenced by areas that differed in peccary abundance, but they were not influenced by rainfall. Estimates of detection probabilities ranged from 0.43 to 0.77 for 3-week time intervals. Sign surveys and occupancy modeling of data can be used to measure spatial patterns of collared peccary in south Texas as long as multiple 3-week time intervals are sampled.
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Vol. 71 • No. 2