Much of the information about the identity of the primary predators of game and non-game wildlife is often inferred from indirect evidence such as landscape patterns in prey mortality, indices of potential predator activity or abundance, or are extrapolated from a select few studies which may not be representative of dynamics in different places or at different points in time. Consequently, management actions intended to reduce predation may be ineffective because the primary predators are misidentified. In grasslands, ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) and eastern cottontails (Sylvilagus foridanus) are important game species and predation of these animals is largely attributed to nocturnal predators such as mesocarnivores. The extent to which pheasants and cottontails are preyed on by diurnal predators, such as raptors, is unclear but determining the role these predators play is important to the effective management of both game species. We used automated telemetry systems deployed in three grassland landscapes in east-central Illinois to address to address several questions about the identity of the predators of pheasants and cottontails. We used activity data from our automated systems to classify predation events as nocturnal or diurnal and determined whether predator identity differed between prey species, among seasons, or among landscapes. Our study helps to clarify the identity of the primary predators of two important game species. This type of information can help address questions about predator-prey relationships and can assist wildlife managers attempting to reduce the impact of predation on species of interest.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Great Waters, Great Lands, Great Responsibilities: 76th Midwest Fish & Wildlife Conference, January 24-27, 2016, Grand Rapids Michigan|
|State||Published - 2016|