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Effectiveness of predator odors as gray squirrel repellents

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The ability of gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) to discriminate between different predator odors and the use of predator odors to deter gray squirrels from foraging on plants have not been previously investigated. To test the hypothesis that predator scent decreases foraging, I investigated the effect of such scent on consumption of butternuts (Juglans cinerea) in the field. Results showed that (i) red fox (Vulpes vulpes) scent was significantly more effective than either a control or human scent; (ii) raccoon (Procyon lotor) scent was significantly more effective than white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) scent (but only after 7–9 h); (iii) red fox scent was not significantly more effective than raccoon scent; and (iv) human scent was not significantly more effective than the control. The utility of predator odors in controlling damage by gray squirrels should be explored.

La capacité des Écureuils gris (Sciurus carolinensis) à reconnaître les odeurs de différents prédateurs et l'utilisation de ces odeurs pour éloigner les Écureuils gris et les empêcher de se nourrir d'espèces données de plantes n'ont jamais été étudiées. J'ai éprouvé l'hypothèse selon laquelle l'odeur d'un prédateur diminue l'activité alimentaire en examinant l'effet d'une telle odeur sur la consommation de noyers cendrés (Juglans cinerea) en nature. Les résultats indiquent (i) que l'odeur du Renard roux (Vulpes vulpes) est significativement plus efficace que l'odeur témoin ou que l'odeur humaine, (ii) que l'odeur du Raton-laveur (Procyon lotor) est significativement plus efficace que celle du Cerf de Virginie (Odocoileus virginianus) (mais seulement après 7–9 h, (iii) que l'odeur du Renard roux n'est pas plus efficace que celle du Raton-laveur et (iv) que l'odeur humaine n'est pas significativement plus efficace que l'odeur témoin. L'utilité des odeurs de prédateurs pour contrer les dommages causés par l'Écurueil gris vaut la peine d'être exploitée.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2001

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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