Intensive forest management may influence the availability of suitable den sites for large den-seeking species, such as Procyon lotor (Raccoon). As part of a Raccoon ecology study on an industrial forest in the Allegheny Mountains of central West Virginia, we radio-tracked 32 Raccoons to 175 diurnal den sites to determine relative use of dens that included cavity trees, rock dens, log piles, slash piles, and exposed limbs. Patterns of den use significantly differed between sexes and among seasons. Overall, we recorded 58 cavity dens in 12 tree species with 7 maternal dens found in 5 tree species. Raccoons selected larger-diameter den trees than available cavity trees and non-cavity trees. Because the abundance of suitable tree cavities is known to influence Raccoon densities and recruitment at fine spatial scales and female Raccoons in this study used tree cavities as maternal den sites, the continued harvest of large-diameter trees (i.e., those capable of developing den cavities) without replacement may impact Raccoon recruitment within intensively managed forests throughout the central Appalachians.
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Vol. 22 • No. 1