FortinAndruskiw2003

Reference

Fortin, D. and Andruskiw, M. (2003) Behavioral response of free-ranging bison to human disturbance. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 31(3):804-813.

Abstract

Although anthropogenic disturbance can have a significant impact on wildlife populations, little information exists on the behavioral response of free-ranging bison (Bos bison) to human activity. From 1996-1998, we identified factors influencing the immediate response of free-ranging plains bison (B. b. bison) to human presence, evaluated whether human disturbance increased their daily movements, and determined whether this influenced resource use in Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan. We conducted 299 bison surveys while traveling by foot, snowmobile, or pickup truck. When bison were encountered, we recorded herd size and composition, reaction of bison to our presence, and our distance from the herd. Following the detection of human presence, bison reacted by either approaching the observer (3% of 384 observations), looking in our direction while remaining in place (460%), or fleeing the area (51%). Bison were more likely to flee from a truck than a hiker and as likely to flee from a person traveling by snowmobile as from one on foot. The probability of flight by herds that included young bison (<1 year old) increased as the snowmobile got closer, reaching 50% at 257 m. The average daily radius (i.e., straight-line displacement over 24 hours) of female bison equipped with GPS collars increased 27-30% when they responded to human presence by fleeing compared to when there was no disturbance. There was no evidence, however, that the frequency of disturbance imposed on this population had an important impact on resource use. Variation in bison density among meadows was not related to the number of human disturbances. Instead, bison density was related to environmental factors such as snow depth in winter and water availability during the snow-free season. Additionally, human disturbance was not more frequent in the meadows where bison were observed relatively less than expected based on the abundance of their preferred plant species. Our observations indicated that humans can minimize their impact on bison by remaining farther than 260 m from herds and by being discreet when near large herds containing young bison.

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@ARTICLE { FortinAndruskiw2003,
    AUTHOR = { Fortin, D. and Andruskiw, M. },
    TITLE = { Behavioral response of free-ranging bison to human disturbance },
    JOURNAL = { Wildlife Society Bulletin },
    YEAR = { 2003 },
    VOLUME = { 31 },
    PAGES = { 804-813 },
    NUMBER = { 3 },
    NOTE = { 733QQ },
    ABSTRACT = { Although anthropogenic disturbance can have a significant impact on wildlife populations, little information exists on the behavioral response of free-ranging bison (Bos bison) to human activity. From 1996-1998, we identified factors influencing the immediate response of free-ranging plains bison (B. b. bison) to human presence, evaluated whether human disturbance increased their daily movements, and determined whether this influenced resource use in Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan. We conducted 299 bison surveys while traveling by foot, snowmobile, or pickup truck. When bison were encountered, we recorded herd size and composition, reaction of bison to our presence, and our distance from the herd. Following the detection of human presence, bison reacted by either approaching the observer (3% of 384 observations), looking in our direction while remaining in place (460%), or fleeing the area (51%). Bison were more likely to flee from a truck than a hiker and as likely to flee from a person traveling by snowmobile as from one on foot. The probability of flight by herds that included young bison (<1 year old) increased as the snowmobile got closer, reaching 50% at 257 m. The average daily radius (i.e., straight-line displacement over 24 hours) of female bison equipped with GPS collars increased 27-30% when they responded to human presence by fleeing compared to when there was no disturbance. There was no evidence, however, that the frequency of disturbance imposed on this population had an important impact on resource use. Variation in bison density among meadows was not related to the number of human disturbances. Instead, bison density was related to environmental factors such as snow depth in winter and water availability during the snow-free season. Additionally, human disturbance was not more frequent in the meadows where bison were observed relatively less than expected based on the abundance of their preferred plant species. Our observations indicated that humans can minimize their impact on bison by remaining farther than 260 m from herds and by being discreet when near large herds containing young bison. },
    KEYWORDS = { behavioral response; bison; Bos bison; daily radius of movement; human disturbance; Prince Albert National Park; resource use white-tailed deer; yellowstone-national-park; woodland caribou; snowmobile; elk; winter; predation; decisions; movement; tarandus },
    OWNER = { brugerolles },
    TIMESTAMP = { 2007.12.05 },
}

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