Washington Urban-Wildland Carnivore Project

Woodland Park Zoo and the University of Washington School of Environmental Sciences are researching how a gradient of human development affects habitat use, patterns of activity, intraguild interactions, species composition, and diet for a community of carnivores in western Washington. Focal species include cougars (Puma concolor), black bears (Ursus americanus), bobcats (Lynx rufus), coyotes (Canis latrans), raccoons (Procyon lotor), striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis), domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) and domestic cats (felis catus). As human development continues to expand, research on species that occur within the urban-wildland gradient helps set the stage for land-use planning, public education, outreach, and conservation. We are deploying remote cameras in patches of natural vegetation on federal, state, municipal, and private parcels along a gradient of development intensity (from urban to wildland) quantified by housing density, percent imperviousness, and percent forest cover. The cameras are placed along game or human trails, roads, or other landscape features that maximize the probability of detection. At camera sites we are also opportunistically collecting scat samples that will be sent to the U.S. Forest Service’s National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation in Missoula, Montana for diet-focused genomic testing.

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