For many wildlife species, agricultural landscapes undergo spatial and temporal fluctuations in the composition of food and cover annually with the planting and harvesting of crops. Raccoon (Procyon lotor) populations have flourished in agricultural landscapes, where crops increase foraging opportunities and efficiencies. However, information is lacking regarding the effects of temporal shifts in food and cover resulting from agricultural activities on raccoon home ranges. We examined home-range characteristics of 60 (33 M, 27 F) adult raccoons in northern Indiana, USA, from May 2003 through June 2005 to identify shifts in the size of home ranges and core use areas among seasons defined by crop availability and crop developmental stages. Mean fixed-kernel home-range (92 ± 6 ha; 𝑥̄ ± SE) and core-area sizes (20 ± 2 ha) of males were significantly larger than those of females (58 ± 7 ha and 13 ± 2 ha, respectively), and both were smaller than those reported for raccoons in other fragmented agricultural landscapes. Home-range sizes varied little among seasons for either sex. However, home ranges of males were smallest during the crop maturation stage, whereas home ranges of females were smallest during the crop growing season. The results of our study suggest that even in expansive rural landscapes, raccoons can maintain small home ranges when food, water, and denning resources are readily available. Additionally, the lack of differences among seasonal home-range sizes, despite the presence of an ephemeral superabundant food source (i.e., corn) during the maturation season, was likely due to the close proximity of foraging and denning resources across seasons.
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Vol. 71 • No. 3