Scavenger Interactions With Oryx Gazella Carcasses in the White Sands Missile Range

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Sarah Schulwitz


Lead poisoning from ammunition residues in carcasses and remains of field dressed, firearm-harvested game poses a potential threat to scavenging wildlife. To better understand the extent of this potential threat our study aims to quantify visitation of scavenging species interacting with Oryx gazella remains in the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) of New Mexico. We analyzed over 160,000 photos captured from motion-triggered cameras placed at kill-sites for hunts that took place during the summer (n=30) and winter (n=72) between August 2017-March 2018. We quantified species observed, their frequency, as well as presence for time of day and season. Raven, coyote, and adult golden eagle were the most frequent visitors (visiting 96%, 82%, 33% respectively); the least frequent included black bear, badger, and cougar (visiting < 5%). Additionally, golden eagle visitation increased during winter months, visiting 43% of carcasses, compared to 10% during summer. A similar trend in coyote behavior saw winter visitation at 96%, and summer at 50%. These results contribute to a baseline understanding of the relationship between hunted carcass remains and scavenging wildlife. When combined with additional hunter data, range managers will be able to assess and ameliorate the threat of lead poisoning to scavenging wildlife.

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