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Population and Movement Characteristics of Radio-Collared Striped Skunks in North Dakota During an Epizootic of Rabies

by

Raymond J. Greenwood1, Wesley E.Newton1, Gary L. Pearson2, and George J. Schamber3


ABSTRACT: We observed a total of 102 striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) from March to July of both 1991 and 1992 in Stutsman County, North Dakota (USA) during an experiment with food supplementation. Twenty-three apparently healthy skunks in 1991 and 56 in 1992 were equipped with radio-collars. In 1991, one of 23 was tested and found to be rabid. In 1992, 50 of 56 were tested; 35 (69%) were rabid. Of skunks with ages estimated, 19 (66%) of 29 were first year animals in 1991 compared with nine (22%) of 41 first year animals in 1992. All 18 females captured in 1991 were pregnant or parous compared with 21 (60%) of 35 in 1992. The estimated survival rate of skunks was 0.85 during April to June 1991, but only 0.17 during April to July 1992. In 1992, the survival rate of first year skunks was 0.08, compared with 0.35 for older animals. Eleven (31%) of 36 skunks found dead of rabies or in late clinical stage were located below ground. We detected no differences in 1992 between healthy and rabid skunks in estimated mean (± SE) rate of travel (232 ± 14 m/hr), distance traveled (2047 ± 141 m/night), or home range size (1.6 ± 0.4 km2) during half-month periods from April through June. Among rabid skunks, mean (± SE) rate of travel tended to decrease from 298 ± 48 m/hr during the 14 days preceding the clinical period of rabies (pre-clinical) to 174 ± 48 m/hr during the clinical period of rabies (14 days immediately before death). Similar decrease occurred in mean (± SE) distance traveled in a night (2318 ± 281 m, pre-clinical; 1497 ± 281 m, clinical). Mean (± SE) home range size of males (2.8 ± 0.4) was greater than of females (1.2 ± 0.4) during the pre-clinical period, but during the clinical period home range sizes of males (1.8 ± 0.4) and females (1.8 ± 0.4) were similar. Mean (± SE) home range size of females did not differ between pre-clinical (1.2 ± 0.4) and clinical (1.8 ± 0.4) periods (P = 0.22). Deaths of skunks from rabies in 1992 tended to be more spatially clumped than expected had they been random, mostly due to deaths detected before 8 May. We detected no correlation between locations of animals found dead of rabies and dates of death.

Key words: distance traveled, epizootiology, home range, Mephitis mephitis, North Dakota, rabies epidemic, radio-telemetry, striped skunk, survival rate, travel rate.


This resource is based on the following source (Northern Prairie Publication 0990):
Greenwood, Raymond J., Wesley E. Newton, Gary L. Pearson, and George J. Schamber.
     1997.  Population and movement characteristics of radio-collared striped
     skunks in North Dakota during an epizootic of rabies.  Journal of 
     Wildlife Diseases 33(2):226-241.
This resource should be cited as:
Greenwood, Raymond J., Wesley E. Newton, Gary L. Pearson, and George J. Schamber.
     1997.  Population and movement characteristics of radio-collared striped
     skunks in North Dakota during an epizootic of rabies.  Journal of 
     Wildlife Diseases 33(2):226-241.  Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center 
     Online. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mammals/skunks/index.htm
     (Version 01DEC97).

Table of Contents


1 Northern Prairie Science Center, Biological Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey, Jamestown, North Dakota 58401, USA
2 Prairie Veterinary Hospital, Jamestown, North Dakota 58401, USA
3 Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota 58105, USA


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