Date of this Version
The Prairie Naturalist • 51(1): June 2019, pp 33-36
The plains spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius interrupta) had a historically broad distribution in the central United States, extending from the Mississippi River west to the Rocky Mountains. This subspecies of the eastern spotted skunk (S. putorius) has experienced population declines in recent decades possibly due to habitat loss and reduction of prey through conversion of grasslands and forests to croplands, as well as reductions in abandoned buildings, fence rows, creek bottoms, and wood piles throughout the region (Crabb 1948, Kaplan and Mead 1991, Gompper and Hackett 2005, Sasse 2017). Woody debris provides access to prey, and a dense understory and overhead cover provide camouflage and protection from avian predators (Lesmeister et al. 2013, Eng et al. 2018). Overharvest, disease, pesticide use, and expanding or increasing predator populations might also have contributed to population declines (Gompper and Hackett 2005, Gompper 2017). Because the plains spotted skunk is currently under consideration for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2012), it is important to communicate new information on abundance, distribution and ecology of the subspecies. Furthermore, limited data exist on incidental captures of plains spotted skunks by researchers and state agencies (Diggins et al. 2015, Sasse 2018). Data collected through live-capture and non-invasive techniques are needed to improve the effectiveness of management and the understanding of this subspecies (Hackett et al. 2007).