Observations of predator activity at wildlife water developments in southern Arizona
birds of prey
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CitationDeStefano, S., Schmidt, S. L., & DeVos, J. C. (2000). Observations of predator activity at wildlife water developments in southern Arizona. Journal of Range Management, 53(3), 255-258.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalJournal of Range Management
AbstractWildlife water developments have been constructed and maintained throughout the arid western United States to benefit big game and upland gamebird populations. There is debate, however, over possible detriments to wildlife from artificial water sources in deserts and other arid environments. One concern is that water developments attract predators, which then impact the prey populations that these developments are intended to benefit. To examine the extent of predator activity around water developments, we examined 15 paired water and non-water (random) sites for sign (scats, tracks, visual observations, animal parts such as feathers and bones, and carcasses) of predators and prey. Predator sign was 7x greater around water sites than non-water sites (P = 0.002). Coyote (Canis latrans Say) sign accounted for 79% of all predator sign and was 7x greater near water than away from water (P = 0.006). Amount of sign for all prey species combined was not different between paired sites (P = 0.6), but results for individual species and groups of species was variable; passerine and gallinaceous bird sign was greater around water sites (P = 0.008), ungulate sign was not different between water and non-water sites (P greater than or equal to 0.20), and lagomorph sign was almost 2x greater away from water than near water (P = 0.05). Predators were probably attracted to wildlife water developments to drink rather than hunt; without water developments, predators may be even more concentrated around the fewer natural water sites.