A new mapping tool helps steer people away from stressed-out wildlife Jim Oehler likes to take morning walks along the trails in a popular preserve in Hollis, New Hampshire. One day last fall, he inadvertently flushed up four wood ducks. As a wildlife biologist with the state’s Fish and Game Department, Oehler understood better than most people how stressful that interaction could have been for the waterfowl—and how his seemingly benign behavior was a factor in that stress. “We need to get people outside to enjoy nature—the physical and emotional benefits of nature,” he says. “But we need to do it in a balanced way so that wildlife can thrive. And outdoor recreation can have an impact on wildlife—their abundance, distribution, and presence in the woods.” Encounters between humans and wildlife are increasingly common today, especially as more users hit the trails in response to pandemic-related closures of indoor spaces. A study published in April by the Connecticut Trail Census found that average trail use increased by 77 percent at 13 of the state’s most popular multiuse trails in March 2020 compared with the previous year . A Pennsylvania Environmental Council study found that springtime trail use in 2020 […]

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