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Keywords:

  • Alberta;
  • all-terrain vehicles;
  • human-induced disturbance;
  • mountain goats;
  • Oreamnos americanus;
  • recreational activities

Abstract

The increasing popularity of recreational activities in the wild has led to concerns about their potential impacts on wildlife. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) often bring people into wildlife habitats, where they may disturb animal populations. We assessed the influence of ATVs on the behavior of mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) in a long-term study population at Caw Ridge, Alberta, Canada. We used multinomial models containing environment-, disturbance-, and group-related factors, to evaluate the response of mountain goats to the approach of ATVs. Goats were moderately to strongly disturbed by ATVs 44% of the time, and disturbance levels were mainly influenced by the direction and speed of the approaching vehicles. Environment- or group-related factors (e.g., time of year, distance to escape terrain, group size or type) did not affect mountain goat responses to ATVs. Because goat reactions were influenced by disturbance-level factors, we propose mitigating measures regarding the use of ATVs in the wild to minimize the disturbance to mountain goats, and potentially other alpine ungulates. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.