Effects of tourist activities on ungulate behaviour in a mountain protected area

F. Pelletier


Many protected areas seek to both preserve biodiversity and promote recreational activities. These objectives,however,may conflict if human activities reduce animal use of protected habitat. Todetermine if traffic volumeaffected the area-use pattern of wild ungulates, I conducted ungulate surveys along a road in the Sheep RiverProvincialPark, Alberta, over two years. I counted groups of four ungulate species, and compared the number seenduringweekdays (low traffic volume) and weekends (high volume). Fewer groups of all three cervid species were seenduringweekends than during weekdays, while no difference was observed for bighorn sheep. Bighorn sheep, however,flewat the sight of or when chased by domestic dogs. High traffic volume decreased ungulate use of habitat areaswithinsight of the road. Anthropogenic disturbance therefore led to habitat loss in this protected area becauseduringdays with heavy traffic, ungulates avoided habitat close to the road. Moreover,harassment by domestic dogsartificiallyincreases the predation risk perceived  by ungulates, which is likely to increase vigilance, decrease foragingtimeand cause bighorn sheep to spend more time in escape terrain.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Journal of Mountain Ecology
The Journal of Mountain Ecology is an OPEN ACCESS peer reviewed journal published by the Gran Paradiso National Park.