Study Finds Hiking and Hunting Cause Minor Effects on Wildlife - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Study Finds Hiking and Hunting Cause Minor Effects on Wildlife Distribution

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North Carolina(KWWL) -

The eMammal project, a study from a North Carolina State University used 32 protected forests to determine whether recreational activity disrupted wild life.

The tests were done by using citizen science camera traps.

Researchers compared data of protected areas with similar habitats but different hunting regulations and compared sites on and off hiking trails.  More than 350 citizen scientists contributed to the study over a two-year period, operating camera traps in six states including: North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Tennessee. 

 “While hiking and hunting did have measurable effects on some species, the overall impact of humans in the park was minor compared with the effects of other factors such as large undisturbed areas of forest habitat and local housing density,” says lead author Roland Kays, a conservation biologist with North Carolina State’s College of Natural Resources and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

White-tailed deer, raccoons, eastern grey squirrels and fox squirrels are the most hunted animals in the study, but there were less of these animals in the areas where hunting is permitted. Coyotes, on the other hand, frequented hunting areas more often than non-hunting sites, and they did not steer clear of hiking areas.

Most animals in the study did not avoid the hiking trails.

“Some predators sought them out. While bears and bobcats shied away from people in hunting areas, the most-heavily hunted species did not, which suggests that humans aren’t broadly feared,” Kays says.

Parks in the area are working on protecting the wildlife while providing recreational oppertunites for people. The research from this study suggests that the park managers are doing a good job of finding the right balance between the two.

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