Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for

 

Date of this Version

January 2004

Abstract

Four ycars of data from a hiyh-density n~arine turtle nesting hcach at John D. MacArthur Beach Statc Park, Florida wcrc examined along with data on raccoon (Procyon lotor.) ruad-kills from adjaccnt roads, and data on park attendance (as an index of local traffic) to make infcrcnces about raccoon activity patterns relative to turtle ncsting. Raccoon road-kills were found Lo diminish subsiantially during turtle nesting, even though local traffic was constant or increasing. Opossums (Didelphis virginiana). the only other maminal consistcntly foluid as road-kills, did not show a decrease during ti~rtlen esting season, but they are not known as a primary predator of turtle nests. We concluded that duriny turtlc nestiny raccoons are drawn to the beach to prey on the abundant food resource of turtle eggs, and they do not leave the beach until the end of turtle nesting season. High nu~nbcrso f raccoon road-kills during the fall-wintcr, followed by a decrease in the spring around the start of turtle nesting season, might be ured as indicators to initiate management actions to protect turtle nests.