U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Published in Herpetological Conservation and Biology 4(3):340-344.


One of the primary threats to sea turtle reproduction in Florida is nest predation by Northern Raccoons (Procyon lotor). We examined 10 years of nest deposition data from a high-density sea turtle nesting beach at Sebastian Inlet State Park, Florida, USA, along with data on raccoon road-kills from the adjacent road, and data on park attendance (as an index of local traffic) to make inferences about raccoon activity patterns relative to turtle nesting. Northern Raccoon road-kills diminished during turtle nesting, even though local traffic was higher. Virginia Opossums (Didelphis virginiana), the only other mammal consistently found as road-kills, did not show a decrease during turtle nesting season, but only rarely function as primary predators of turtle nests. We believed the most logical interpretation was that the abundant food resource of turtle eggs attracts raccoons to the beach during turtle nesting and they do not leave the beach area until the nesting season ends. The large numbers of Northern Raccoon road-kills during the fall-winter might be a signal that management actions to protect turtle nests might be needed.