University of Wyoming Raccoon Project

What We Do
The University of Wyoming Raccoon Project (UWRP) is an ecology and ethology research group at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY. UWRP researchers study raccoon and skunk behavior and cognition to determine if these mesocarnivores' ability to live in human-modified landscapes is, in part, due to their cognitive abilities (e.g., problem-solving, learning, behavioral flexibility, etc.). To explore this idea, researchers study wild raccoons and skunks living in the city of Laramie. Animals are captured and marked, then released back in their natural environment for cognition experiments. Researchers collect biological samples for diet, genetic, and disease testing, and they track the movements of individuals fit with Very High Frequency radio collars. The Laramie mesocarnivore study is a long-term project that will provide UWRP researchers with insight into the cognitive mechanisms that enable raccoons, skunks, and other mesocarnivores to exist alongside humans.

The UWRP traps, marks, releases, and tracks raccoons and skunks living in Laramie, WY.

Who We Are
Dr. Sarah Benson-Amram is the principle investigator of the UWRP, and she oversees the work of the graduate and undergraduate students in the lab. There have been 2 graduate and 14 undergraduate students and 1 project manager working on this project since it originated in 2014!

The many faces of the those who have worked for the UWRP.

Community Involvement
Another important goal of the UWRP is to encourage the community to enjoy the wildlife living in their backyards. Researchers are able to inspire public interest in a local wildlife species by promoting citizen science opportunities and through educational outreach events. A large proportion of the UWRP's trapping and data-collecting efforts has taken place on private property, so researchers are dedicated to creating and maintaining connections with the Laramie community. Please report Laramie, WY., raccoon sightings to raccoon@uwyo.edu. Interested in having UWRP members discuss their research with your organization, class, or at a community event? Check out Get Involved for more information!

The UWRP organizes outreach events for students of all ages, gives presentations to teens at the public library, and attends community events like the Laramie Farmer's Market.

Learn More
Check out these links to learn more about our study and what a typical day is like for UWRP researchers.
Article: UWRP Researchers to Begin Trapping
Article: From Pests to Puzzle Solvers
Video: From Pests to Puzzle Solvers