Most of our cameras were in urban or suburban areas, so its not surprising that we got mostly pictures of squirrels, rabbits, and raccoons. These common critters are what we will focus our statistical analysis on, trying to understand what factors determine their abundance in this environment.
However, we also detected some wildlife that is not common in the area, some of them in surprising places. None of these will be included in our statistical analysis, but looking into the details of the few sites we did find them can be informative.
#1. Brown Rat. This famous city rat was not common in our back yards or woodlots. Some chicken-coop owners were afraid we would find that they had infestations of rats eating their chicken food but, for the most part, this was not the case. Only two yards had rats, both in the more developed parts of Raleigh. Those two sites did seem to have high activity of rats, with 19 pictures taken between the two of them.
#2. Eastern Chipmunk. Folks from other parts of the country might be surprised that chipmunks were rare in our backyard surveys, but locals know they are not common here. Raleigh is at the southeastern portion of their range, and they disappear completely further eastward into the coastal plain of North Carolina. Our cameras only picked them up in two wooded back yards in North Raleigh. Like the rats, where they were detected, they were busy, running back and forth and taking lots of pictures of themselves.
#3. Wild Turkey. Once rare and over-hunted in the state, turkeys have made a strong comeback with over 1/4 million animals now found over all North Carolinian counties. They don’t seem to have penetrated suburbia extensively, but we did pick up one animal in Cary and another near Jordan game lands.
#4. Bobcat. These shy cats were picked up at two of our wooded sites. Both of these were fairly remote, compared with our urban woodlots, and suggest that bobcats around here can not tolerate a high level of development. However, one of the sites was near Chapel Hill, showing that bobcats will find good habitat if it is properly connected to other wild areas, such as the Jordan Game Lands to the south.
#5 Coyote. These animals are new to North Carolina, moving in from the west over the last few decades. In some regions coyotes use highly urbanized habitats (e.g. Chicago & Los Angeles), but our survey show that coyotes are not common in the Triangle area. We picked up just one animal at the edge of Raleigh and another at the edge of Durham. Coyotes may occasionally press further into the urbanized neighborhoods, but our data suggest this is not a common thing…for now. As coyotes further increase their density they might learn how to adapt to urban environments better, running in for the rabbits and squirrels that are so common in our yards.