Mesocarnivore survey in southern Idaho
July 2021 - December 2023
- Summerlee Foundation
Rare mesocarnivores such as kit foxes, ringtails, and spotted skunks, occupy southern Idaho. However, we do not know their current distribution, occupancy, or abundance in the state. We attempted to detect not only these small carnivores, but also more common ones, such as badgers, bobcats, and coyotes. Specifically, 1) are there extant populations of rare mesocarnivores in Idaho (e.g., kit fox) and, 2) can data from cameras be used in population monitoring programs for more common, harvested mesocarnivore species (e.g., bobcats)? Beginning in July 2021, we deployed and maintained 98 camera traps in grassland and canyon habitats in southern Idaho. In fall of 2021, we analyzed a total of 45,965 images and videos from camera traps. While we successfully detected a large variety of species, we did not detect kit foxes or ringtails. We detected one spotted skunk, demonstrating that although infrequent, these animals exist in southern Idaho. Our detections of more common mesocarnivores (badgers, bobcats, coyotes, red foxes) demonstrate future survey efforts could frequently detect these animals and such data could be used effectively in a population monitoring program. We found three out of five of our canyon habitat cameras captured multiple mountain lions, indicating such canyons are occupied habitat for these large carnivores. The resulting data have been shared with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. We plan to survey southern Idaho again in fall 2022.