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Animal Interactions at Wind Energy Facilities – Western Spotted Skunk

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Detailed Description

There was one documented skunk event captured on camera - the least documented predator. Here, a western spotted skunk is thoroughly investigating the burrow of one of the marked female tortoises in the study population. Western spotted skunks are known predators of turtle eggs. The skunk investigated the area within the burrow for a full minute before it appears outside of the burrow looking alertly in one direction, then running off screen in the opposite direction. This event took place in October, which is a bit late for eggs to be in a nest, but the nesting season for tortoises at the study site ranges from 12 May to 8 July and hatchlings emerge from their nests from 7 August to 29 September, and this period overlaps broadly with the dates where predators were observed at tortoise burrows.

Infrastructure associated with wind energy facilities can influence the behavior of animal predators and their prey, according to a recent study by University of California – Davis and the USGS.

Motion-sensor cameras were placed facing the entrances of 46 active desert tortoise burrows in a wind energy facility near Palm Springs, California. Recordings showed that visits to burrows from four predators increased closer to dirt roads, and decreased closer to wind turbines. 




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