As urban areas continue to proliferate, so does the demand for outdoor recreation. Hiking trails permeate almost all remaining forest fragments within highly urbanized areas. The effects of hiking trails on carnivores remain unclear, especially in the northeastern United States. Therefore, our objectives were to investigate the spatial and temporal activity patterns of mammalian carnivores in relation to distance from hiking trails. From 2011-2012, 236 camera stations were randomly deployed between trail and off-trail areas that covered an area of 4.8km2. A total of 3880 trap nights yielded 346 coyote (Canis latrans), 371 raccoon (Procyon lotor), 75 bobcat (Lynx rufus), and 78 red fox (Vulpes vulpes) detections. A consistent pattern of human avoidance by carnivores was observed in high human-use areas; although carnivores were detected more often on trails, detection was less likely during daytime than nighttime. We propose that within urban-forest fragments, trail-based recreation and habitat fragmentation may have similar impacts on carnivore spatio-temporal activity. Considering the top-down influence that coyotes have on ecosystem function (Henke and Bryant 1999), two approaches must be taken. First, efforts must be made to minimize the impacts of human recreation on carnivores through park management practices. Second, research and monitoring programs must be implemented to better understand the long-term effects that hiking trails have on carnivore activity and distribution.
Bandak, Sonny; Sarno, Ronald J.; Peterson, Michaela C.; Farkas, Daniel; and Grigione, Melissa M.
"Active Humans, Inactive Carnivores, and Hiking Trails within a Suburban Preserve,"
Suburban Sustainability: Vol. 6
, Article 1.
Available at: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/subsust/vol6/iss1/1