Date of this Version
Berentsen, A.R., M.R. Dunbar, C.E. Fitzpatrick, and W.D. Walter. 2013. Spatial ecology of urban raccoons in northeastern Ohio: Implications for oral rabies vaccination. The Prairie Naturalist 45:39-45.
In 1977, rabies was detected in a raccoon (Procyon lotor) in West Virginia, and since the mid-1980s raccoon variant rabies has spread throughout the eastern United States and moved west as far as the eastern edge of Cleveland, Ohio. The primary tool to combat this spread is the distribution of oral rabies vaccine (ORV) baits. A thorough knowledge of raccoon space use is critical in determining bait placement, particularly in urban areas. We monitored nine raccoons in urban areas of Cleveland, Ohio, calculated home range sizes, monitored raccoon movement with respect to potential movement barriers, and used resource selection functions (RSF) to determine habitat selection within home ranges. Fixed kernel annual home range estimates were 19.2 ha (SE = 6.7). Home range estimates were 21.5 ha (SE = 7.2) and 18.2 ha (SE = 7.4) for summer and fall, respectively. No seasonal differences in home range estimates were observed (F1,15 = 0.16, P = 0.696). One raccoon crossed an interstate highway and another was located across the Cuyahoga River, suggesting highways and rivers are not impermeable to raccoon movements. Resource selection data indicate that ORV baiting in urban environments should be concentrated in habitat patches and trees adjacent to human-made structures and industrial sites to take advantage of raccoon behavior.