Advancing Small Carnivore Research and Conservation: The Eastern Spotted Skunk Cooperative Study Group Model
David S. Jachowski1,* and Andrew J. Edelman2
1Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29630. 2Department of Biology, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30118. *Corresponding author.
Southeastern Naturalist,Volume 20, Special Issue 11 (2021): 1–12
Nearly half of all small carnivore species are declining globally, with many in danger of extinction and requiring urgent conservation attention. We herein describe the formation of a conservation group focused on the formerly poorly understood Spilogale putorius (Eastern Spotted Skunk). The Eastern Spotted Skunk Cooperative Study Group (CSG) was formed in 2015 by experts in the biology and management of the species and currently contains 143 members representing 29 state agencies, 24 universities, 6 federal agencies, 3 non-governmental organizations, and 2 tribal nations. The goals of the CSG are to (1) enhance communication about the species, (2) identify management and research priorities, and (3) facilitate collaborative planning, funding, outreach, monitoring, and research opportunities. This voluntary group has made progress on all 3 goals by facilitating collaborative research and outreach that have greatly advanced our understanding and awareness of the species, including the drafting of a species conservation plan that has been endorsed by every regional government committee that oversees management of Eastern Spotted Skunks across their range. We conclude by profiling the lessons learned and future directions for the CSG, with the hopes that the CSG could be a model for advancing conservation of small carnivores and other species in need of attention around the globe.