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Florida is home to several species of animals in Order Carnivora, a group of mammals with teeth adapted to allow them to eat meat. Many of them, like panthers, you probably know about, and some, like raccoons, you may see regularly. But did you know Florida hosts two separate species of foxes? Two different skunks? Weasels? This 20-page fact sheet written by Raoul Boughton, Bethany Wight, Elizabeth Pienaar, and Martin B. Main and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation provides an overview of the mammalian carnivores of Florida from panthers to mink.
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Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
Technical Report · January 2020
DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.36227.04642
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Raoul K Boughton
University of Florida
Bethany Wight
University of Florida
Elizabeth Frances Pienaar
University of Georgia
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Mammalian Carnivores of Florida 1
Raoul Boughton, Bethany Wight, Elizabeth Pienaar, and Martin B. Main2
1. This document is WEC419, one of a series of the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date
January 2020. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.u.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.
2. Raoul Boughton, assistant professor, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and research biologist, UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research and
Education Center; Bethany Wight, research biologist, UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research and Education Center; Elizabeth Pienaar, assistant professor,
Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation; and Martin B. Main, professor Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and associate dean
for Extension, Environmental and Natural Resources; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services
only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status,
national origin, political opinions or aliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension oce.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County
Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.
Floridas diverse wildlife includes a group of mammals that
are carnivorous (meat-eating). These mammalian
predators belong to the animal order Carnivora, which are
characterized by having teeth adapted for tearing and
consuming flesh. However, it should not be thought that all
members of this animal order eat only meat; several,
including Florida black bears and coyotes, are omnivorous
and will eat both animal and plant materials. This
document provides an overview of Floridas mammalian
carnivores from large to small. Although other animals in
Florida also consume meat (opossums, for instance,
members of Order Marsupia-lia, or pouched mammals),
this document focuses only on Florida mammals in Order
Although ecologists and wildlife enthusiasts consider
the existence of Floridas carnivores both important and
fortunate in a world where many large carnivores are
rapidly disappearing, there are people who fear and dislike
carnivores. There are also people who kill carnivores on
sight. Fear and persecution of carnivores, combined with
intensive human population growth and habitat destruc-
tion, is threatening the continued existence of carnivores
When European settlers first arrived on North American
shores, they brought with them a prejudice against preda-
tors. The first wildlife legislation enacted in the British
colonies was a bounty upon wolves. This policy of killing
predators dominated wildlife policy until the ecologist Aldo
Leopold demonstrated the important role of predator-prey
relationships in the 1950s. Aldo Leopold documented
that while the removal of predators initially increased the
deer population, the deer population ultimately collapsed.
Predation, and particularly predation by top-level carni-
vores, is a critical ecosystem function. Numerous studies
have demonstrated that the loss of top-level predators can
have negative eects on ecosystems, including declines in
Predator-prey relationships are complex. e removal of
large predators has been shown in some cases to lead to
an increase in deer and other herbivore populations that
damage and eventually modify habitats. When gray wolves
were nearly extirpated from Yellowstone National Park,
the elk population increased, but abundance of woody and
herbaceous plants decreased, which in turn aected other
herbivores. Aer wolves were reintroduced, elk populations
decreased, but abundance of other herbivores like beavers
and bison increased, possibly due to an increase in woody
or herbaceous vegetation. Elimination of large predators
also may result in an increase in “mesopredators,” small to
middle-sized animals like raccoons and opossums, which
may in turn increase predation pressure on ground-nesting
birds such as turkey and quail, as well as other small game
and non-game species. In California, a study suggested that
the decrease in coyote populations allowed for an increase
in mesopredators such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and
domestic cats, which in turn resulted in higher mortality of
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
bird populations. Analogous results were found in a study
of duck nesting success in the Prairie Pothole Region of
North America, where nest predation by foxes was much
greater in areas where coyotes were actively controlled
whereas nesting success was greater where coyotes were not
controlled. As our understanding of the complex interplay
between predators and prey has increased, so has our
acknowledgment that these relationships are important
for both general ecosystem function and the continued
existence of diverse species within the food web.
Floridas carnivorous mammals are remarkable, and some
of Floridas mammals can be found nowhere else. is
document provides information for each of Florida’s 13
land-based carnivore species. Our beliefs and actions as
humans will be critical for their continued survival in
Large Mammalian Carnivores
Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi)
Figure 1. A Florida panther.
Credits: Jay Staton Photography
Figure 2. Florida panther skull.
Credits: Florida Natural History Museum, Kristen Grace
Figure 3. Florida panther tracks.
Credits: UF/IFAS
e Florida panther is tan with a lighter bu or white
underbelly but may be darker brown to rust colored along
the mid-line of the back. The tips of their long tails, sides
of their muzzles, and backs of their ears are blackish.
Panther kittens are brown to gray with darker brown to
black spots that fade as they become adults. Adult male
Florida pan-thers weigh 85–155 pounds and are
approximately seven feet long from the nose to the tip of
the tail. Females are smaller, weighing 50–100 pounds and
measuring around six feet long.
First described in 1896 by naturalist and hunter Charles
Barney Cory, the Florida panther is one of 15 subspecies of
puma that occur in North America. Also known as cougars
and mountain lions, pumas are one of the most widely
distributed carnivores in the Americas, ranging from North
America to South America. However, the Florida panther,
which is smaller, has longer legs, smaller feet, and a shorter,
darker coat than western species of puma, now occurs
only in the southeastern United States. Around the 1900s,
Florida panthers ranged throughout most of the southeast,
but their distribution was reduced due to hunting and
habitat loss. In 1967, the Florida panther was listed as a
federally endangered species, and soon the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) began conduct-
ing eld observations and telemetry research. In the 1990s
the Florida panther population was estimated at 20–25
individuals. ese panthers had several physical signs of
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
inbreeding and reduced genetic variation associated with
their small population size, such as kinked tails, increased
susceptibility to infectious diseases and parasites, and
undescended testicles and low sperm count in males. The
effects of inbreeding also were believed to be responsible
for low pregnancy rates and low kitten survival. To
improve the genetic health of the Florida panther, eight
female pumas from Texas were captured and translocated
to Florida. Five of these females successfully bred with male
Florida panthers before they were recaptured and returned
to Texas. As a result, the genetic health of the Florida
panther population improved, kitten survival increased,
and the panther population eventually tripled.
Today the Florida panther population is estimated at 120–
230 adult and sub-adult panthers. However, the remaining
breeding population is restricted to southwest and south-
central Florida, where large tracts of habitat still exist on
public conservation areas and privately owned cattle
ranches. Because the overall breeding population size is so
small, suitable habitat is limited, and panthers’ need for
large range areas (Table 1) are unmet, the Florida panther
is still considered in danger of extinction and is listed as an
endangered species at both the federal and state levels.
Florida panthers mate throughout the year with a peak in
winter and spring. Average litter size is 2–3 kittens;
however, rarely do all kittens survive. Panther kittens will
stay with their mothers for up to two years.
Despite conservation efforts, continued habitat loss and
fragmentation associated with development and road
construction threaten the continued survival of this large
cat. To survive, panthers require suitable habitat, prey, and
space. Panthers are territorial, which means they defend
their home ranges against unrelated panthers. Confronta-
tions between panthers may end in injury or death. (A
home range is an area in which an animal or group of
animals spends most of its time searching for food and
mates. These may overlap and are not always defended.
Home ranges that are defended are called territories.
Territories typically do not overlap.)
Like all cats, the Florida panther eats only flesh. Because it
cannot survive on other food, each panther requires a large
area to support sufficient prey populations to meet its
energy requirements. Depending on the quality of the
habitat, the home range of an adult male panther may be as
much as 200 square miles and overlap the home ranges of
several females with which he mates. Females have smaller
home ranges of about 75 square miles. Because panthers
use such large areas, they traverse, hunt, and shelter in
many different habitat types, but they prefer mature upland
forests such as hardwood hammocks and pinelands, where
they hunt for their preferred prey, white-tailed deer and
feral hogs. To learn more about Florida panthers and
the FWC management plan, visit
Florida Black Bear (Ursus americanus
e Florida black bear is one of 16 subspecies of black bear
that occur in North America. Although this subspecies does
not look much dierent from black bears in other parts
of North America, the Florida black bear does have some
distinct physical characteristics. For example, Florida bears
have a highly arched forehead and a long, narrow skull.
Florida black bears also have shiny black fur, a brown nose,
Figure 4. Florida black bear caught on game camera.
Credits: Carlton Ward Jr.
Figure 5. Florida black bear skull.
Credits: Kon Studio
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
and a short tail. In Florida, male black bears weigh 250–450
pounds, and the smaller females weigh 125–250 pounds.
in which the egg is fertilized during the summer but does
not implant into the uterine wall until early winter. Average
litter size is 2–3 cubs, and these cubs typically stay with
their mother for 2 years. Florida black bears have reduced
durations of hibernation, oen called denning, compared
to northern black bears in colder climates. Denning occurs
from mid to late winter through mid-April, with an average
denning period of 100–113 days.
e Florida black bear has an omnivorous (plant and
animal) diet and uses a wide range of food items and
habitats. Although bears are oen predatory when op-
portunity allows, diet studies typically report that fruit and
other plant materials constitute most of their diet. Because
diet requirements that include plants are more easily met,
black bear home ranges are smaller than those of panthers,
averaging about 60 square miles for adult males and 12
square miles for adult females. Home range overlap is
common for male black bears. Cores of female home
ranges, however, do not usually overlap. Male black bears
will defend a food source or mate when present, and males
will often fight for these resources. In addition, smaller, less
dominant bears will avoid encounters with more dominant
Red Wolf (Canis rufus)
Figure 6. Florida black bear tracks. The black area represents the part
of the paw that typically makes contact with the ground, whereas the
gray represents a part of the paw that may or may not make contact
with the ground and be apparent in a track.
Credits: UF/IFAS
There are seven geographically separated breeding sub-
populations of black bears in the state from the panhandle
to the southwest peninsula (Table 1). Historically, the
Florida black bear subspecies was found from southern
Georgia and Alabama through most of Florida. It was listed
as threatened from 1974 to 2012, with an estimated popula-
tion of 300–500 bears in the 1970s due to unregulated hunt-
ing and habitat loss. rough conservation eorts by the
FWC and other agencies that enforced hunting regulations
and preserved habitat, the populations have rebounded,
and the Florida black bear was delisted in 2011, with
populations increasing almost 90% from 2002 to 2015. e
FWC initiated the Florida Black Bear Management Plan in
2012 to conserve the bear population through the creation
of bear management units (BMU). Today the population
is estimated to consist of about 4,046 individuals, and in
June of 2015 the FWC approved a limited bear hunt in four
of the seven BMUs as a means to stabilize subpopulation
bears. A total of 304 bears were harvested during the 2015
eort. To learn more about Florida black bears and the
FWC management plan, visit
Black bears breed from June to August. Bears have an
unusual breeding adaptation called delayed implantation,
Figure 7. Captive red wolf at Species Survival Plan facility, Point
Deance Zoo and Aquarium (Tacoma, WA).
Credits: B. Bartel/USFWS (
Red wolves are medium-sized, between the size of a coyote
and a gray wolf. Adults weigh 45–80 pounds, with males
averaging 10% larger than females. ey are brown and bu
colored with black along their backs and the tips of their
tails and reddish ears, heads, and legs. Red wolves have
wide heads, broad muzzles, pointed ears, and long, thin
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
Historically, the red wolf was common throughout the
eastern and south-central United States, including Florida.
Today there are no wild populations of red wolves in
Florida. ey were trapped and killed almost to extinction
by the early 20th century. By the middle of the 20th century,
the few remaining red wolf populations were at risk of
hybridization with coyotes, potentially resulting in hybrids
that were more coyote than wolf. Today, the red wolf is one
of the most endangered wolves. In Florida, habitat loss and
intense predator control eorts to protect livestock resulted
in the extinction of the subspecies Canis rufus oridanus
in 1920. In 1967, the red wolf was listed as federally
endangered and the US Fish and Wildlife Service began
conservation eorts to protect the species. As extinction
of this species in remaining habitats became imminent, a
captive breeding program began in 1973 with 17 red wolves
captured. In 1980, the red wolf was listed as extinct in the
Red wolves were social animals that lived in familial packs,
typically consisting of a breeding pair and their ospring.
Red wolf packs were territorial and defended their ter-
ritories from other canids and wolves. e last wild red
wolves were found in moist, densely vegetated habitats such
as hardwood forest, coastal prairie, and marsh habitats.
Research has indicated that wolf pack territory size varied
greatly depending on pack size, available resources, and
habitat and ranged from 25–500 or more square miles. e
alpha male and female within a pack mated in late winter
and averaged 2–8 pups. Other adults in the pack helped
care for the young. Prior to extinction, red wolves preyed
mostly on rabbits, rodents, and other small prey. Released
red wolves today, however, rely more on white-tailed deer,
raccoon, and rabbits.
Although the red wolf is extinct in the wild, there remain
a couple of very small groups of red wolves living outside
zoos. Starting in 1990, St. Vincent National Wildlife
Refuge in northwestern Florida has been used as an island
propagation site for red wolf recovery. One breeding pair
and up to two resulting annual litters have been allowed to
roam freely on the island. ese red wolves are equipped
with radio telemetry collars so staff and researchers can
track them. At about 18 months, the wolves are relocated
to the 1.2-million acre red wolf recovery area in eastern
North Carolina. Today more than 40 red wolves live in
native habitats in eastern North Carolina as part of an
experimental population, and more than 200 red wolves
are living in captive breeding facilities throughout the
United States. There remains concern about the
experimental populations of North Carolina, because
coyotes have expanded into the area and continue to
hybridize with red wolves, threatening their already small
gene pool. To learn more about the red wolf recovery
program, visit
Figure 8. Red wolf skull.
Credits: The Wolves of North America VII, Edward A. Goldman
Figure 9. Red wolf tracks.
Credits: UF/IFAS
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
Medium Mammalian Carnivores
Coyote (Canis latrans)
Coyotes are smaller than wolves and larger than foxes, with
adults weighing 20–40 pounds and males typically larger
than females. eir fur color is a mixture of browns, grays,
whites, and even black, and they have large triangular ears,
a long slender muzzle, and a bushy tail.
e coyote is a relatively recent addition to Floridas list of
carnivores. Following the elimination of wolves throughout
most of the continental United States during the last
century and increased habitat alteration, the geographic
range of coyotes expanded across the country to include
the eastern states. Coyotes were documented in the Florida
Panhandle during the 1970s and expanded their range
into south Florida by the 1990s. Although 16 subspecies of
coyotes are documented in North America, it is not clear
which subspecies have contributed to Florida populations.
Because coyotes arrived in Florida primarily by way of
range expansion (although intentional introductions of
small numbers by hunters have been documented), they
technically are not an exotic species, nor are they histori-
cally native to Florida. erefore the status of the species is
dicult to dene.
Coyotes are skilled hunters. Although coyotes prefer open
habitats such as rangelands, they can use a diversity of
habitats (including suburbs and large cities) and are oppor-
tunistic in their diets. Coyotes primarily prey upon small
mammals such as rabbits and rodents but also large mam-
mals such as white-tailed deer, particularly fawns. Coyotes
also consume insects, large amounts of fruit, and even grass
at certain times of the year. Coyotes will scavenge and eat
carrion. Coyotes occasionally kill livestock and small pets,
creating conict with humans. Females reproduce annually
and average 6 pups to a litter. Pups typically disperse at
8–10 months of age. Like other carnivores, coyotes are
territorial and establish home ranges that typically cover
5–20 square miles. Little research has been done to estimate
population size, but based on home range studies, it appears
that densities in rural areas are approximately one breeding
pair per 10–15 square miles. ese ranges are occupied by
a breeding male and female, which is the basic social unit
for coyotes. Although not much is known about coyotes
in Florida, it seems clear that coyotes are here to stay. (For
more information refer to Wildlife of Florida Factsheets:
Coyote, http://edis.ifas.u.edu/uw443).
Figure 10. An eastern coyote.
Credits: Matt Knoth (
Figure 11. Coyote skull.
Credits: Pereszlenyi Á. (2015) Skull Base—Online Skull Collection
Figure 12. Coyote tracks.
Credits: UF/IFAS
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
Bobcat (Lynx rufus oridanus)PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION
Bobcats are at least twice as large as a domestic cat, averag-
ing 15–35 lbs, with males typically larger than females
(Table 1). ey have brown/tan fur covered with small
black markings that are especially prominent when young.
e tail is short and bobbed with a black tip. e backs of
their ears are black with a white spot (also very prominent
on young, fading with age), and they oen have a “ru
around their neck.
e bobcat is Floridas smaller and only “spotted” wild cat.
Wild cats that have spotted coats are sometimes melanistic,
which means their fur (or pelage) may be very dark or
even black. is occurs in leopards and jaguars in other
regions of the world, where they may be referred to as black
panthers. Melanism also has been documented in bobcats
in Florida but has never been documented in Florida
panthers. Like the panther, the Florida bobcat is a distinct
subspecies, of which there are 12 in North America. Also
like the panther, bobcats are entirely carnivorous, preying
upon small animals such as rabbits, rodents, and birds but
much less frequently on large animals such as white-tailed
deer. Bobcats are easy to distinguish from Florida panthers
by their much smaller size and short tails. For more
information on visual comparisons between bobcats and
panthers, refer to Did I See a Panther? (http://edis.ifas.u.
Bobcats are solitary except during their breeding season
(Aug–Mar). Females average 1–4 kittens per litter that
disperse at about 8 months of age. Bobcats are territorial,
but because they are smaller and hunt prey that is more
abundant, they require less land area than do larger carni-
vores. Home ranges vary from 5–6 square miles in rural,
undeveloped habitat and 1–2 square miles in urban areas.
Male home ranges are larger and overlap the home ranges
of several females. Bobcats are found throughout Florida,
and they use a variety of habitats, ranging from forests to
prairies to, occasionally, urban areas. Bobcat populations
are not listed at the state or federal level as threatened or
endangered. There is little to no data estimating population
size, however, a survey of wildlife agencies suggests they
were recently increasing everywhere except for Florida,
where they were reported as decreasing, although still fairly
common. For more information, refer to Wildlife of Florida
Factsheets: Bobcat, http://edis.ifas.u.edu/uw444.
Figure 13. Florida Bobcat.
Credits: Krystal Hamlin (
Figure 14. Digital representation of bobcat skull.
Credits: Dr. Pamela Owen, 2002, “Lynx rufus” (On-line), Digital
Morphology. Accessed October 22, 2018 at
Figure 15. Bobcat tracks.
Credits: UF/IFAS
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus
Gray foxes are typically grey on their faces, sides, backs,
and tails with a black stripe down the back and tail. e
underbelly is white, and the neck and underside of the
tail is a rusty-yellow color. Some grey foxes can actually
have more red or brown or a mix of these colors and are
oen confused with red foxes. However, the gray fox has a
distinct, cat-like” face with a smaller and shorter muzzle.
Adult gray foxes weigh about 7–13 pounds and are typically
around 40 inches long including a foot-long tail.
e gray fox is Floridas smallest wild canid. is species is
native to Florida and one of 7 subspecies to occur north of
Mexico. e Florida subspecies inhabits Gulf States from
southern South Carolina to Florida, west to eastern Texas
and along the Gulf Coast, except for Louisiana. Breeding
occurs in the spring with females averaging 3–5 pups that
will stay with their parents until late summer or fall. Home
range sizes have been estimated at 0.2–2.6 square miles.
Gray foxes prefer to feed on mice, rats, and rabbits but will
also eat fish, fruits, insects, and some carrion. Gray foxes
have been known to prey on domestic fowl such as
chickens, but this behavior has been described as rare. is
may be because the gray fox is very reclusive and prefers
dense forested habitat during the day and more open
elds and wooded areas at night. e gray fox is capable of
climbing trees and is oen called the “tree fox,” which is an
important survival strategy because gray foxes are preyed
upon by larger predators, including domestic dogs and
coyotes. Historically, hunting of the gray fox for sport and
fur caused populations to decline, and the species was listed
as threatened in some areas. Today, gray fox populations
are thought to be stable but there are little data available,
possibly due to the foxes’ secretive habits.
Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Red foxes are orange/red over most of their bodies, except
for a white tipped tail, underbelly, and neck or muzzle. ey
also have black ear tips and legs. is coloration diers
from the gray fox, which is mostly gray with red around
the neck, shoulders, and legs. Red foxes are also slightly
larger than gray foxes and resemble a small dog. They
weigh 10–15 pounds and are about 3 feet long including
their tails.
The red fox is not native to Florida (except perhaps in the
Panhandle) and is thought to have become established
through introduction by hunting clubs. However, a recent
study showed that red foxes in the southeastern United
States originated from range expansion from eastern Can-
ada and the northeastern United States, similar to coyotes,
Figure 16. Gray fox.
Credits: Gary Robertson (
Figure 17. Gray fox skull.
Credits: Pereszlenyi Á. (2015) Skull Base—Online Skull Collection
Figure 18. Gray fox tracks.
Credits: UF/IFAS
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
and are now found throughout the state. Breeding occurs
in late fall or early winter, females average 5 pups, and these
pups stay with their parents for about 6 months. e red fox
can live in a variety of habitats but typically prefers uplands
mixed with elds and pastures and edges. Unlike the gray
fox, they avoid dense forested habitat. ey can also live in
suburban areas, such as parks or golf courses. e home
range size of red foxes varies with habitat, climate, and food
resources, but they generally travel 1–5 miles from their
den. Red foxes are mainly carnivorous, eating rabbits, mice,
rats, and other small animals. Red foxes will also eat sh,
insects, birds, eggs, frogs, reptiles, worms, and fruits. ey
are solitary hunters, and when food is abundant, they will
cache food in the ground. Red foxes have acute hearing,
allowing them to detect prey in tall grass. ey are known
to jump into the air and pounce on their prey. Red foxes
are highly adaptable and have adapted to human-converted
open habitat—including farms. ey are oen reported to
attack small livestock like chickens.
North American River Otter (Lontra
e North American river otter has thick, protective dark
brown fur with a lighter brown underbelly and face. As
Floridas only semi-aquatic carnivore, otters can live on
land and water. eir narrow bodies, at heads, short
legs, webbed feet, and strong tails allow for streamlined
movement in water. ey have long whiskers to detect prey
under water, clawed feet to grasp slippery prey, and a full
set of teeth to tear esh. Adult otters weigh between 11–30
Figure 19. Young red fox.
Credits: Hal Trachtenberg, (
Figure 20. Red fox skull.
Credits: Pereszlenyi Á. (2015) Skull Base—Online Skull Collection
Figure 21. Red fox tracks.
Credits: UF/IFAS
Figure 22. American river otter.
Credits: Jon Nelson (
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
pounds and can grow to be up to 3–4 feet including their
e North American river otter occurs in Canada and most
of the United States. In Florida, they are found everywhere
except for the Keys and live in freshwater swamps,
ponds, rivers, and creeks. ey have also been observed
in coastal estuaries but are more common in freshwater
environments. ere is also mention of two subspecies, L.
c. lataxina and L. c. vaga, that have been found in Florida,
although there is little to no information on these subspe-
cies. Breeding occurs in late winter to early spring. Otters
have a unique breeding adaptation called delayed implanta-
tion in which the egg is fertilized during the summer but
does not implant into the uterine wall until early winter.
Females average 1–3 pups, and these pups may disperse
or remain in familial/social groups. Home range size is
typically 3–15 square miles, with male home ranges over-
lapping multiple female home ranges. River otters are a top
predator within aquatic habitats and prefer to eat aquatic
prey such as sh, crawsh, frogs, and crabs but will also eat
birds, eggs, reptiles, and other small mammals. Otters are
social, living in small family groups typically consisting of a
mother and her young. However, adult males and juveniles
are oen more solitary. Once hunted for their fur almost to
extinction, today river otter populations are abundant.
Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Figure 23. Digital representation of a North American river otter skull.
Credits: Mr. Eric Ekdale, 2006,
Lontra canadensis (On-line), Digital
Morphology. Accessed October 22, 2018 at
Figure 24. North American river otter tracks.
Credits: UF/IFAS
Figure 25. Northern raccoon.
Credits: Kenneth Cole Schneider
Figure 26. Northern raccoon skull.
Credits: Pereszlenyi Á. (2015) Skull Base—Online Skull Collection
The northern raccoon is one of the most recognized mam-
mals in North America. Their small furry bodies, black
face masks, and ringed tails make them highly distinctive.
Adult raccoons weigh between 10–30 pounds and are
about 2–3 feet long including their tails.
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
Rabies (https://edis.ifas.u.edu/uw282). Raccoon round-
worm (Baylisascaris procyonis) is an intestinal parasite
of raccoons that occurs throughout Florida but is low in
prevalence. is roundworm can infect humans that come
in contact with raccoon feces. Be sure to wash your hands
aer working outside, monitor small children in areas with
common raccoon latrines, and do not allow pets to roam
unsupervised outside where they could be exposed to
raccoon feces.
Small Carnivores of Florida
Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
Figure 27. Northern raccoon tracks.
Credits: UF/IFAS
Raccoons are classified as carnivores but consume a varied
diet, including plants, fruits, seeds, carrion, and almost
anything out of residential garbage cans. Raccoons are
known to prey on small pets and livestock such as rabbits
and chickens. is adaptability has allowed them to thrive
in almost all habitats, including urban and residential areas.
In Florida, breeding typically occurs from March–April,
females average 3–4 young, and young usually disperse by
10 months of age. Males are somewhat territorial, and home
ranges average 1–3 square miles, but they will travel more
than a mile from their home range to access an abundant
food resource. In areas where food is plentiful, raccoon
densities have been 100 per square mile. Historically,
panthers and red wolves would have preyed on raccoons,
but today they have few natural predators in Florida. Recent
studies have shown a dramatic decrease in raccoon popula-
tions near Everglades National Park, which coincides with
an increase in populations of invasive Burmese pythons.
Although raccoons are killed by alligators, dogs, coyotes,
bobcats, and great horned owls, most raccoon fatalities are
from vehicle collisions. One of the major concerns with
raccoons is the potential for transmitting disease and
parasites to people and pets, particularly rabies. Rabies
is always a concern, and studies have reported up to 1 of
200 wild raccoons have been exposed to rabies. Do not
handle wild animals, especially if they are acting strangely,
wandering aimlessly, approaching without fear, or behaving
aggressively. For more information on raccoons or rabies,
refer to Northern Raccoon (http://edis.ifas.u.edu/pdles/
UW/UW03300.pdf) and Facts about Wildlife Diseases:
Figure 28. Striped skunk.
Credits: Clyde Nishimura/Smithsonian’s National Zoo (
Figure 29. Digital representation of a striped skunk skull.
Credits: Dr. Blaire Van Valkenburgh, 2008, “Mephitis mephitis” (On-line),
Digital Morphology. Accessed October 22, 2018 at http://digimorph.
e striped skunk has thick black fur with a white stripe
that starts from the nose and splits at the neck to form two
stripes that end at the base of the tail. Striped skunks have
small heads and ears, short legs, and large, bushy tails.
Adult striped skunks weigh between 6–8 pounds and
measure up to 32 inches including their tails.
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
e eastern striped skunk is the larger of two species of
skunks that occur in Florida. Skunks are most commonly
known for their ability to spray. When threatened, they
spray a strong-smelling and quite unpleasant oily musk
from scent glands near their anuses. e oily musk may
carry up to 15 feet, and skunks store about a tablespoonful
of the stu in their glands, which is enough to spray 5–6
times in a row. eir main predators are great horned owls;
other potential predators such as bobcats and coyotes are
typically deterred by their smelly defense strategy. Striped
skunks feed mostly on insects, but they will eat mice, rats,
eggs, chicks, frogs, craysh, and fruits. ey have also been
known to raid garbage cans in residential areas. Skunks
have a breeding adaptation called delayed implantation,
in which the egg is fertilized but implants at a later date.
Females average 4–7 young during the spring that disperse
within a couple months. Striped skunks are typically
solitary unless breeding. ey are crepuscular, meaning
they are very active at dawn and dusk, however they do
hunt throughout the night. e striped skunk prefers
open areas, but they can live in a variety of habitats such
as wooded areas, deserts, and even urban environments.
Skunks make dens in hollow trees or logs, brush piles, or
abandoned animal burrows, but they will occasionally dig
their own burrows. Typical home ranges are 0.5–1.5 miles
from their den. While skunks may be viewed as pests, they
may help control mice and insect populations.
Eastern Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius)
Eastern spotted skunks are easily distinguishable from
striped skunks by the spotted pattern of their fur. Spotted
skunks have thick black fur, white spots on their faces,
Figure 30. Striped skunk tracks.
Credits: UF/IFAS
Figure 31. Spotted skunk.
Credits: Kim Cabrera,
Figure 32. Spotted skunk skull.
Credits: Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann
Arbor. (
Figure 33. Spotted skunk tracks.
Credits: UF/IFAS
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
horizontal white stripes on their necks and shoulders, and
irregular vertical stripes along their backs. Spotted skunks
are smaller than striped skunks, weighing about 2 pounds.
ey are about 20 inches long, including their tails.
Like the striped skunk, the spotted skunk can spray a
smelly musk from its anal scent glands, but rather than
just liing its tail, it does a handstand and then sprays.
Spotted skunks are typically faster than striped skunks,
and they are the only skunks able to climb trees. Unlike
striped skunks, spotted skunks are typically more social and
may share a den with several individuals. Females average
ve young during the spring, and these kits are capable of
foraging on their own at four months. Spotted skunks are
also more carnivorous than striped skunks, eating mostly
small mammals. However, they will also eat insects, fruits,
vegetables, and food scraps or garbage. Spotted skunks
prefer closed-canopy forests or dense underbrush likely to
reduce the risk of predation. Den sites are typically found in
hollow logs, rock piles, and brush piles. However, they will
often claim a burrow of another species as a den and have
on several occasions been observed occupying the burrows
of Florida burrowing owls, maybe even eating the owls’
eggs. Home ranges of the spotted skunk are similar in size
to those of the striped skunk, but males have been observed
increasing home range size up to 3 square miles during the
spring, most likely as a result of searching for a mate.
American Mink (Neovison sp.)
Figure 34. Everglades mink (Neovison vison evergladensis).
Credits: Jay Staton Photography
Mink are part of the weasel family and are semi-aquatic.
ey have sleek, thick, dark brown fur, sometimes with
white spots on their chins and chests, flattened heads with
small whiskers, and small, rounded ears. Mink also have
ve partially webbed toes to help them swim. ey are
small, weighing about 14–28 ounces, and can grow up to 25
inches long.
Figure 35. American mink skull.
Credits: The Acorn Naturalists,
Figure 36. American mink tracks.
Credits: UF/IFAS
Mink are typically solitary except when with young.
Breeding typically occurs in the fall during the wet season.
Females give birth to an average of 4 young, which are
weaned 4–6 weeks aer birth. Like black bears and eastern
striped skunks, mink have delayed implantation as a breed-
ing adaptation. Mink feed on small mammals, snakes, and
insects. ey are typically nocturnal feeders and are known
to be erce ghters, oen attacking prey much larger than
themselves. When startled, mink will hiss or snarl. Also,
they are capable of releasing an unpleasant-smelling liquid
when stressed. Mink are extremely cryptic, or dicult to
nd. ere are little to no data on the three geographically
distinct subspecies of mink in Florida. e Atlantic salt
marsh mink (N. v. lutensis) is found along the upper
northeastern Atlantic coast in Nassau, Duval, and St. Johns
counties; the Gulf salt marsh mink (N. v. halilimnetes) is
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
found along the gulf coast from Franklin to Pasco County;
and the Everglades mink (N. v. evergladensis) is restricted
to southern Florida, specically the freshwater marshes
and swamps of Everglades National Park, Big Cypress
National Preserve, and the Fakahatchee Strand. Historically,
the Everglades mink’s range stretched into the northern
Everglades and Lake Okeechobee, but the last record of an
Everglades mink is from 2011 when mink hair was found
in the stomach of an alligator captured on the southwestern
coast of Everglades National Park. e Everglades mink is
listed as threatened at the state level. Mink populations face
threats of habitat loss and degradation as human develop-
ment encroaches on their already isolated and small range.
Canine distemper is also deadly to mink. e FWC started
conducting surveys on mink populations in 2013, and data
are currently being analyzed.
Long-Tailed Weasels (Mustela sp.)
e long-tailed weasel is the smallest carnivore in Florida.
It is a widely distributed species, ranging from southern
Canada to parts of South America. In Florida there are two
subspecies, the Florida long-tailed weasel (Mustela fernata
peninsulae), which is slightly larger with coarser fur and
is found in south-central Florida, and the southeastern
long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata olivacea), which is more
chestnut brown with a black-tipped tail and is found in
northern Florida and the Panhandle. Long-tailed weasels
are strict carnivores, feeding on mice, rats, rabbits, birds,
eggs, reptiles, and amphibians. Like the mink, they are
known to attack prey much larger than themselves. When
food is abundant, they will stash food for later. Long-tailed
weasels are solitary, except during mating season. Weasels
have delayed implantation and average 3–9 young that
will disperse at about 3 months of age. Males can be very
territorial but may overlap ranges of multiple females.
Disease among Florida’s
Interactions among carnivores can increase risk of
disease transmission. Rabies can only be transmitted
by mammals, and carnivorous mammals are the most
commonly infected. Rabies is a virus that attacks the
central nervous system, and although there is a vaccine,
untreated individuals become seriously ill and can die.
Figure 37. Long-tailed weasel.
Credits: Robin Agarwal, (
Figure 38. Digital representation of long-tailed weasel skull.
Credits: Dr. Blaire Van Valkenburgh, 2007, “Mustela frenata” (On-
line),Digital Morphology. Accessed October 22, 2018 at http://
Long-tailed weasels are long and slender with short legs and
long tails. They are typically brown with lighter underbel-
lies. They resemble mink, but they are smaller, weighing
about 300–450 grams, and they favor dry upland habitats.
Figure 39. Long-tailed weasel tracks. On the hind track, the black area
represents the part of the paw that typically makes contact with the
ground, whereas the outline represents a part of the paw that may or
may not make contact with the ground and appear in a track.
Credits: UF/IFAS
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
Rabies is most commonly spread through saliva when an
infected individual bites a non-infected individual, but it
also can be spread through other bodily secretions. In the
United States, 90% of reported rabies cases were in wildlife
and domestic animals, and the virus is most common in
animals like raccoons, bats, cats, dogs, bobcats, fox, skunks,
otters, and even horses. Bats and raccoons are known to
act as reservoirs for rabies in Florida, meaning the virus is
maintained and circulates within these populations. Other
species like otters, bobcats, and skunks are not known to be
reservoirs of rabies but can still transmit the virus if they
become infected and bite or scratch another animal before
death. If reservoir animal populations become abundant,
there may be an epizootic event in which a rabies outbreak
occurs in the population with many individuals infected at
once. is in turn poses more risk to other wildlife, do-
mestic livestock or pets, and people. For more information
on rabies in wildlife, refer to Facts about Wildlife Diseases:
Rabies (http://edis.ifas.u.edu/uw282).
Pseudorabies (PrV) is a virus that causes rabies-like
symptoms but that is not rabies. Humans are not aected
by PrV. It is most commonly found in swine but can aect
other mammals such as cattle, sheep, goats, cats, dogs, and
raccoons. It is sometimes referred to as “mad itch” because
cattle or other livestock will rub against objects to relieve
skin irritation. Although PrV is most commonly found
in feral swine, other animals that prey on or interact with
swine are at risk for infection. In Florida, PrV has been
reported in domestic dogs and cats, coyotes, and panthers.
In a 1986 study, it was reported present in one 10-month-
old black bear cub who most likely had fed on an infected
feral swine. Florida panthers commonly prey on feral
swine, and to date eight panthers are known to have died
from PrV. For more information refer to Facts about
Wildlife Diseases: Pseudorabies
Canine distemper (CDV), another virus of wild and
domestic carnivores, has symptoms similar to pneumonia.
It is spread from bodily secretions by direct contact or
indirectly through airborne “droplets,” or it can be
transferred via contaminated inanimate objects. In Florida,
there have been reports of CDV infection in coyotes,
raccoons, foxes, otters, skunks, black bears, and even the
Everglades mink. CDV is most commonly found in
domestic dogs and can be a problem in close-proximity
areas such as animal shelters, where it spreads easily.
Epizootic events as a result of CDV have been reported for
gray fox and raccoon populations, with many individuals
dying and populations declining. In 2004, the virus was
found in four free-ranging Everglades mink in the
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and
was suggested to have caused an epizootic event that led to
a decline in the population. In the mid-1990s, a study found
that 8% of 66 bears were positive for CDV antibodies,
meaning they had once been infected but recovered. While
all carnivores are at risk for CDV, it is most commonly
found in raccoons, otters, and mink.
Conservation and Management of
Floridas Carnivores
Dierences in behavioral patterns, habitat preferences, and
diets enable Floridas carnivores to ll unique ecological
roles. Although many of these species may compete for
prey or even prey upon each other, these dierences allow
carnivores to partition resources eciently, which reduces
competition for needed resources and enables these dier-
ent species to survive and even co-exist in the same areas.
e principal threats to Floridas carnivores are habitat
loss and fragmentation. ese two factors work in tandem
through the reduction of suitable habitat that can support
species and by isolating populations and preventing the
exchange of genetic information and maintenance of a
healthy gene pool. Other threats also exist, such as mortal-
ity on roadways, disease transmission, and impacts from
invasive species, but the continued loss of natural areas and
important wildlife corridors is the greatest threat, especially
for larger carnivores such as the Florida panther and black
bear. For example, the continued urbanization of southwest
Florida, including the construction of new and larger roads
to support this growth, may continue to constrict and con-
fine the Florida panther population into ever-smaller areas.
Road mortality, which currently is reported to constitute
about half of all documented sources of death of panthers
that have been tagged or radio collared, also will undoubt-
edly increase. e future of the Florida panther, therefore, is
dependent upon conservation action ensuring that enough
space and suitable wildlife corridors connecting large tracts
of natural areas are preserved to enable these large cats to
continue to survive in Florida. For more information, refer
to Habitat Requirements of the Florida Panther https://edis.
Florida black bears face similar problems because of their
need for large areas of suitable habitat and wildlife corridors
to connect populations. Although management actions
have enabled black bear populations to increase, bears
continue to be killed in vehicle collisions. Nuisance activity
from bears attracted to garbage and other sources of food
provided by humans is becoming an increasingly serious
problem. ese nuisance bears can become dependent
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
on human food sources, which ultimately increases their
exposure and danger to humans. Relocation of nuisance
bears is typically not eective, and repeat oenders must
sometimes be euthanized. Keeping garbage and other food
resources securely locked away can reduce nuisance bear
activity. For more information refer to https://edis.ifas.u.
edu/uw389, https://edis.ifas.u.edu/uw429, https://edis.ifas.
u.edu/uw430, https://edis.ifas.u.edu/uw437.
e examples provided with the Florida panther and black
bear are probably the most problematic because of the
large habitat requirements needed for viable populations of
these two species. However, by protecting the habitat needs
of large-ranging or “umbrella” species such as these, the
habitat needs of many other species and the ecological roles
they perform can be protected. In summary, the loss of
predators in ecosystems can have unpredictable results and
the conservation of Floridas carnivores helps maintain the
complex ecological relationships that exist among predators
and prey and between herbivores and plant communities.
By conserving large tracts of habitat required by carnivores
and maintaining connectivity among natural areas across
the landscape, we ensure that sucient habitat is preserved
to support carnivores and the many other species of plants
and animals that constitute Floridas natural environment.
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Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
Table 1. Ecological and biological parameters of Florida’s mammalian carnivores. (DI = delayed implantation, NC= North Carolina)
size (est.)
Body Size
Principal diet Sexual
Litter Size
PANTHER Endangered 120–230 Southwest 85–155 M
50–100 F
200 M 75 F Large mammals 3 yrs M
1.5–2.5 yrs F
All year;
peak in
2–3 kittens
BLACK BEAR Not listed 4,046 7
M 125–
250 F
110 M 20 F Plants/berries,
insects, small
4–5 yrs M
3–5 yrs F
days DI
2–3 cubs
RED WOLF Endangered Extinct in
wild 40
NC 200 in
Extinct 45–80, M
found in
moist, densely
Large to small
3 yrs 60 days Late
early spring
2–6 pups
COYOTE Not listed Estimate of
1 breeding
20–35, M
Diverse, prefer
open, uplands
5–20 Small to large
mammals, insects,
1 yr 60 days Winter–
6 pups
BOBCAT Not listed Little to
no data,
reported as
but still
15–25 M
8–20 F
Diverse, forest
to prairies
5–6 rural
1–2 urban
Small mammals 2 yrs M 1
yr F
Fall, winter,
1–4 kittens
GRAY FOX Not listed Little data,
estimate of
7–13, M
Dense forests,
open elds
0.2–2.6 Small mammals,
insects, fruit
1 yr 60 days Spring 3–5 pups
RED FOX Not listed No data Throughout
10–15, M
mixed with
elds and
1–5 Small mammals,
insects, birds, fruit
1 yr 51–53
5 pups
OTTER Not listed No data,
thought to
be abundant
11–13, M
ponds, rivers,
and creek
3–15 Fish, crustaceans,
birds, small animals
2 yrs 60 days Late
early sping
2–4 pups
RACOON Not listed Abundant Throughout
10–30, M
All, including
1–3 Small mammals,
birds, plants/berries,
sh, crustaceans
2 yrs M 9–10
mnths F
60 days Late
early spring
3–4 kits
Not listed Abundant Throughout
6–8 All, including
0.5–1.5 Insect, small
amphibians, fruit
9 mnths 66 days Spring DI 4–7 kits
Mammalian Carnivores of Florida
size (est.)
Body Size
Principal diet Sexual
Litter Size
Not listed Abundant Throughout
2 All, including
0.5–1.5 Insect, small
amphibians, fruit
9 mnths 66 days Spring DI 4–7 kits
MINK State
Unknown South,
0.75–1.75 Freshwater
marshes and
Unknown Small mammals,
snakes, insects
1 yr 51 days Fall DI 4 kits
WEASELS Not listed Abundant Throughout
0.5 Forests,
swamps and
0.02–0.5 Small mammals,
rodents, birds,
reptiles and
1.5 yr M 1
yr F
280 days
Summer DI 3–9 kits
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Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are native to boreal and western montane portions of North America but their origins are unknown in many lowland areas of the United States. Red foxes were historically absent from much of the East Coast at the time of European settlement and did not become common until the mid-1800s. Some early naturalists described an apparent southward expansion of native foxes that coincided with anthropogenic habitat changes in the region. Alternatively, red foxes introduced from Europe during Colonial times may have become established in the east and subsequently expanded their range westward. The red fox also was absent historically from most lowland areas of the western United States. Extant populations of red foxes in those areas are considered to have arisen from intentional introductions from the east (and by extension are putatively European), escapes or releases from fur farms, or range expansions by native populations. To test these hypotheses we compared mitochondrial DNA sequences (cytochrome b and D-loop) from 110 individuals from 6 recently established populations to 327 native (primarily historical) individuals from Eurasia, Alaska, Canada, the northeastern United States, and montane areas in the western contiguous United States, and to 38 individuals from fur farms. We found no Eurasian haplotypes in North America, but found native haplotypes in recently established populations in the southeastern United States and in parts of the western United States. Red foxes from the southeastern United States were closely related to native populations in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, suggesting that they originated from natural range expansions, not from translocation of European lineages, as was widely believed prior to this study. Similarly, recently established populations in the Great Basin and in western Oregon originated primarily from native populations in western montane regions, but also contained a few nonnative North American haplotypes. In contrast, populations in western Washington and southern California contained nonnative, highly admixed stock that clearly resulted from intracontinental translocations. Several common haplotypes in these populations originated in regions where fur-farm stocks originated. Although European red foxes translocated to the eastern United States during Colonial times may have contributed genetically to extant populations in that region, our findings suggest that most of the matrilineal ancestry of eastern red foxes originated in North America.
"WOLFERS" IN NORTHEASTERN North Carolina were busy on February 5, 1768. Records from the Tyrrell County courthouse read: “Giles Long and Thomas Wllkinson awarded one pound for a certified wolf scalp; Jeremiah Norman awarded two pounds for certified wolf and wild-cat scalps; Davenport Smithwick awarded one pound for a certified wolf-scalp. Such was the nature of the war on the wolf: people killed them for money. The belief of the time held that the war was necessary because it was humankind's manifest destiny to tame the wilderness. And for the wilderness to be tame, the wolf had to be exterminated. The wolf was resourceful and hardy, but the wolfers persisted with increasingly sophisticated methods of killing. The war lasted 200 years, and the wolf lost.”
The attractant was bobcat Felis rufus urine. Mean monthly scent-station visitation rates were bobcats, 1%; raccoons Procyon lotor, 27%; gray foxes Urocyon cinereoargenteus, 48%; and opossums Didelphis virginiana, 10%. Scent-station indices were compared to population estimates derived by trapping (all species), radioisotope tagging (bobcats and raccoons), and radiotelemetry (bobcats and gray foxes). The scent-station indices accurately reflected trends in the population abundance of bobcats, raccoons, and gray foxes, but not of opossums. Recommendations for standardizing scent-station methodologies are discussed. -from Authors
1. Reliably estimating the abundance of rare or elusive animals is notoriously difficult. An archetypical example is the endangered Florida panther, whose conservation status is intrinsically linked to population size, but for which reliable abundance information is lacking across its range. This is due not only to the inherent difficulty of sampling a rare and elusive species over a large geographic area, but also because of restricted scientific access to private land. 2. Human interactions with wildlife are a regular occurrence, and interactions with non-scientists constitute an important and underutilized source of information about species distribution and abundance. For example, motor vehicle collisions with Florida panthers are recurrent on the vast network of roads within the public and private lands comprising its range in southern Florida, USA. 3. Capitalizing on a tendency for the public to report collisions with species of concern to wildlife officials, we describe a novel methodology using public reports along with routine telemetry monitoring data to produce the first statistically defensible population estimates for the Florida panther across its entire breeding range. In essence, our approach uses traffic volume and road density to estimate the probability of motor vehicle collision mortality from telemetered animals and models counts reported by the public accordingly. 4. Despite low motor vehicle collision mortality probabilities, our methodology achieved abundance estimates of reasonable precision (29% CV) that was similar to that of previous panther studies using conventional approaches on much smaller study areas. While recovery criteria require establishment of three distinct populations of 240 Florida panthers, we found this single population may never have exceeded 150 individuals from 2000 to 2012. 5. Synthesis and applications. By extracting critical demographic information from underutilized aspects of human–wildlife ecology, our citizen-based approach can cost less than conventional alternatives and could conceivably be used for long-term population monitoring of other species over broad geographic areas, for example from reports of avian wind farm collisions, beached whales or marine mammal boat strikes. An additional benefit is that it can be applied to historical data sets of carcass recovery programmes, in our case permitting abundance estimation over a 13-year period.
The food items appearing most often and in the greatest volumes and frequencies were seasonally available fruits and colonial insects. Although seasonal changes in diet were evident, substantial shifts in habitat use were not apparent. This is because many of the habitats used by Ursus americanus in Florida produce food throughout the year.-from Authors
A knowledge of the structure of a population is essential for the clarification of population characteristics. This paper presents some of the facts learned about aging, age structure, reproduction and mortality in a population of gray fox ( Urocyon cinereoargenteus ) in southern Georgia and northern Florida between June, 1952, and March, 1956. The base study area referred to throughout this paper as the Thomasville, Georgia, area embraces the southern portions of Thomas and Grady counties in Georgia and the northern portions of Leon and Jefferson counties, Florida. It is bordered on the southeast by Lake Miccosukee and on the southwest by Lake Iamonia. It lies in the Tift upland region of the lower coastal plains, and is characterized by a sandy soil and a typical savannah–longleaf pine disclimax of the Gulf coastal plains. Much of the total land mass is in large plantations that have extensive stands of natural longleaf pine. Some of the plantations are managed as an economic unit and have a considerable amount of agriculture in addition to the timber production. Others, however, are managed primarily as private hunting reservations notwithstanding the potential timber revenues. On both types of plantations the woodlands are burned annually or biennially according to the management recommendations outlined by Stoddard (1931). The study area is bisected by the Ochlochnee River and dissected by numerous small streams. Water, however, has been less abundant than normal as a result of the extended drought that has prevailed in much of the South during the period of this study. The gray fox is the only wild member of the family Canidae to be found in this area and the population is continuous throughout; however, as is to be expected due to varying land use practices or other factors, the density of foxes is not homogeneous throughout. …