Trapping Conservation and Self-Reliance News

UMich: Impact of Human Activity on Large Mammal Spatial Ecology in Homer Alaska
May 8, 2024 06:35 ET


Protected areas are an important strategy to preserve wildlife habitat but can have varying levels of human management and recreation. This can impact animals, with wildlife within protected areas tending to avoid areas with high human presence. Therefore, protected areas that limit human activity may be more effective for wildlife conservation. This study aimed to analyze the impact of human activity on the spatial ecology of moose (Alces alces), coyote (Canis latrans), black bear (Ursus americanus), and Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis), to determine if protected areas limiting people are beneficial for wildlife. Inspiration Ridge Preserve (IRP) and Wynn Nature Center (Wynn) are two wildlife preserves managed by the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies in Homer, Alaska, with different access policies: IRP limits visitation to 30 people on the preserve per day, while Wynn is open to the public for hiking and recreation. Camera trap data was used to assess human and wildlife presence across the preserves. IRP had lower human impact and greater wildlife presence of all four species compared to Wynn. Wildlife also showed increased temporal avoidance of peak human activity at IRP compared to Wynn, which may indicate a lower level of habituation that could help decrease human-wildlife conflict. These results suggest that the 30-person policy at IRP may be beneficial for wildlife; decreased human impact was correlated with increased wildlife presence and potentially lower habituation to people. This policy can serve as a template for protected areas to reduce anthropogenic impact and most effectively support threatened wildlife populations.