Outdoor recreation can lead to increased conservation of wildlife habitat, yet also has the potential to alter how species use that habitat. A new paper by WildCAM member Robin Naidoo and WildCAM co-chair Cole Burton, assessed the relative impacts of recreation on mammals by deploying camera traps in South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park. Camera traps were used to monitor wildlife as well as recreation activity. Mountain bikers were the most frequent type of recreation activity detected in the park. The authors found that human activity did not have a strong or consistent negative effect on wildlife, except for the negative effects of mountain biking on grizzly bears (Ursus arctos), and on moose (Alces alces), as there was a lower probability that these species would use areas frequented by mountain bikers. At a fine-scale, they found an overall avoidance of humans on trails (especially mountain bikes and motorized vehicles) by all wildlife species. Their findings suggest that at a broad scale, outdoor recreation does not have as large an impact on wildlife as other environmental factors but at smaller spatial scales, recreational activities can disturb wildlife species. As grizzly bears and moose are the most disturbed by recreational activity and are ecologically and culturally important, the paper suggests that it would be worth studying their negative associations more closely with additional camera-trap monitoring.
by Jessica Low