VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — With busier trails and an emphasis on getting outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, a study out of UBC is showing what this is doing to the province’s wildlife with the help of motion-activated cameras.
Camera traps were set up around B.C.’s South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park to study how animals have been impacted by people visiting more often.
For the most part, UBC researchers found environmental factors, like elevation or forest conditions where the cameras were placed, played a larger role than human activity when it comes to the frequency of wildlife using the trails.
But, through the cameras, researchers found animals seemed to avoid spots people used recently. Wildlife also stayed away from mountain bikers and motorized vehicles more than hikers or horseback riders.
Study author Robin Naidoo, a UBC adjunct professor at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability explains they wanted to understand the impact of human recreation in the region because of its growing popularity.
“We already know that motorized vehicle access can disrupt wildlife; our initial findings suggest that other types of recreation may also be having impacts.”
He explains the camera traps used in the study can help monitor wildlife and recreational use of the trails.
“We’ll be able to collect more information over time and build a solid basis for research findings that can ultimately inform public policy,” he says.
But Cole Burton, study co-author and a professor of forestry at UBC and the Canada Research Chair in terrestrial mammal conservation, says this is only the first of a multiyear study and more research is needed to understand the impact of human activity on wildlife.
“Outdoor recreation and sustainable use of forest landscapes are important, but we need to balance them with potential disruption of the ecosystem and the loss of important species.”
Grizzly bears, black bears, moose, mule deer, and wolves were among the thirteen species the study focused on.