Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Jennifer S. Forbey


Recreational shooting of Piute ground squirrels (Urocitellus mollis) in southern Idaho is an activity growing in popularity. One factor that may influence shooting success is the personality of individuals within a population. We hypothesized that bold individual ground squirrels would be more/less likely to be targeted by a hunter and would be more/less disturbed by gun fire. To test these hypotheses, we simulated recreational shooting to identify which personalities are more susceptible hunters and more responsive to gun fire. We preformed simulations in March of 2015 on a population of Piute ground squirrels with known personalities. Bold and shy individuals were coded by dying the fur of squirrels in a way distinguishable by observers during simulations which took place at three sites with varying vegetative cover. We recorded the frequency of detection of each personality type through a hunting scope. In addition, we observed the behavioral response (e.g. flee, vigilance, alarm call) of ground squirrels to a recording of a .22 caliber fire. We also identified whether raptors were attracted to the simulated shooting area for scavenging in response to the sound of the gun fire. We calculated whether the detection and behavioral responses of squirrel personalities in shooting simulations was disproportionate to that of the marked population. This information can lead to a greater understanding of the role of behavioral factors in the survival of Piute ground squirrels and provide insight into how recreational shooting could influence the personality landscape of a dominant prey species.



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