The manner in which animals balance their foraging needs with predation risk can inform effective management and conservation possibilities by illuminating the species' natural history. The purpose of this study was to determine whether porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) and snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) demonstrated a stronger response to perceived danger posed by a specialist predator (fisher, Martes pennanti) compared to a generalist predator (coyote, Canis latrans). Pairs of wooden stakes soaked in brine were placed in the wooded habitats at the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center, located on the border between Wisconsin and Michigan. Each pair consisted of a stake treated with scent (fisher scent or coyote urine) and a control stake that was untreated. Both prey species combined showed a preference for stakes without scent, with porcupines consuming more than hares. In addition, there was a significant interaction between scent and prey species. Porcupines showed a stronger response to fishers than coyotes, whereas hares did not show a differential response to either scent. This is consistent with the fisher's efficient method of killing and consuming porcupines, and the inclusion of hares in the diets of many predator species. Differences between porcupine and hare consumption of stakes is consistent with the foraging and defense styles of both animals.
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