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Den-site Selection by Eastern Spotted Skunks in the Central Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia

Kendyl N. Hassler1,2, Charles D. Waggy2, R. Manuel Spínola3, Kevin J. Oxenrider2, Rich E. Rogers2, Kelly J. Pearce4, and Thomas L. Serfass1,*

1Department of Biology, Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD 21532. 2West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Romney, WV 26757. 3International Institute on Wildlife Conservation and Management, National University of Costa Rica, Heredia, Costa Rica. 4Department of Environmental Science and Sustainability, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA 16335. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist,Volume 20, Special Issue 11 (2021): 209–224

Abstract
We assessed den-site selection of Spilogale putorius (Eastern Spotted Skunk) in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia by radio-tracking 8 individuals to 83 dens from January 2018 to October 2019. We measured local habitat characteristics at den sites and nearby, presumed unused paired sites and compared the habitat predictors via binary logistic regression. Results from the averaged model indicated greater understory cover from stems of Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel) and Vaccinium spp. (Blueberry) and Gaylussacia spp. (Huckleberry), as well as medium to large rocks, and coarse woody debris increased the odds of a den site being used. Medium to large rocks were the most influential predictor of a den site. Our results suggest Eastern Spotted Skunks in this region would likely benefit from management practices that increase density of understory cover and coarse woody debris and preserve rocky outcroppings.

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