If nest predation at least partially results from incidental encounters between predators and nests, then management practices that reduce the probability of such encounters could increase nest success. Therefore, we studied effects of prescribed fire on raccoon (Procyon lotor; a documented nest predator) use of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and mixed longleaf pine-hardwood (Quercus spp.) forests in southwestern Georgia during the nesting seasons of ground- and shrub-nesting birds (i.e., mid-April-mid-August) of 1999 and 2000. Forested stands that had been burned since the previous growing season were 52% and 80% less likely to be used by raccoons than unburned stands during 1999 and 2000, respectively. Overall, prescribed fire after the previous growing season resulted in a 62% reduction in probability of use by raccoons during the nesting season. Prescribed fire may serve as a tool to reduce incidental encounters between raccoons and nests, but further work is needed to determine the overall effect of prescribed fire on nest success.
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