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River Crossings by Two Male Eastern Spotted Skunks in West Virginia

Kendyl N. Hassler1,2, Charles D. Waggy2, Kevin J. Oxenrider2, Rich E. Rogers2, Kelly J. Pearce3, and Thomas L. Serfass1,*

1Department of Biology, Frostburg State University, 101 Braddock Road, Frostburg, MD 21532. 2West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, 1 Depot Street, Romney, WV 26757. 3Department of Environmental Science and Sustainability, Allegheny College, 520 N. Main Street, Meadville, PA 16335. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist,Volume 20, Special Issue 11 (2021): 199–208

Spilogale putorius (Eastern Spotted Skunk) populations have declined throughout their range and may now be extirpated from the northeast in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Populations have persisted south of the Potomac River along shared mountain ranges in Virginia and West Virginia. Little is known about the dispersal capabilities of the species, including if large riverine systems inhibit their dispersal. During a radio-telemetry study of 8 Eastern Spotted Skunks in West Virginia, 2 males crossed the South Branch of the Potomac River (SBPR) on 9 occasions. Crossings may have been motivated by breeding movements, as 7 occurred during the breeding season. Stretches of the Potomac River similar in size to the SBPR might not inhibit the natural recolonization of the northeastern range.

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