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Coons destroy millions of dollars worth of crops nationwide each year. Many farmers get crop depredation permits to have hunters take the raccoons destroying their crops. To become the friend of farmers by taking the raccoons on their lands this summer and fall, you need to know all you can about the varmint you'll be hunting.
Here's the latest research on raccoons. For the last decade, Dr. Bruce Leopold, a wildlife ecologist at Mississippi State University, has intensively studied carnivores, animals that eat other animals. Leopold has particularly studied the habits of the raccoon. In this special report, Leopold gives us some of the latest information that scientists have learned about the bandit eyes and how this information can enable us all to take more coons.
QUESTION: What have you learned about the aggressive nature of coons?
ANSWER: While we've been using radiotelemetry to track coons, bobcats, foxes and coyotes simultaneously, we've learned that when there are coons and bobcats in the same area, the bobcats will not displace the coons.
QUESTION: Do you mean to say that you think a coon can whip a bobcat in a fight?
ANSWER: I don't know whether a coon can whip a bobcat in a fight or not, but I do know that a bobcat doesn't want to take on an animal that rears up on its hind legs, bares its fangs and offers to fight back. The bobcat doesn't want to waste his energy fighting with an animal that will fight back when the bobcat is searching for food.
We've learned in our studies that a fox will run from a bobcat. We've also learned from radiotelemetry that a coon rarely leaves an area when another carnivore comes into to its home range. However, we have seen that a gray fox will leave a section when a bobcat or a coyote moves into its home range.
QUESTION: Many hunters believe that when a coyote moves into an area he kills or runs off the coons, but what does your research show?
ANSWER: Research tends to indicate that this assumption isn't true. We've examined over 1,000 scat of both bobcats and coyotes over the last eight years and have found no raccoon hair in either the bobcat or coyote scat. Therefore, I'm reasonably certain that increasing coyote populations in certain areas won't have a detrimental impact on coon populations in those same places. We do know, however, that the coyote does displace some other fur bearers when it moves into an area.
Dr. Leopold and his team of scientists continually study and add to the wealth of knowledge we have about carnivores.