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Factors influencing the reaction of mountain goats towards all-terrain vehicles

Authors

  • Antoine St-Louis,

    Corresponding author
    1. Département de biologie and Centre d'études nordiques, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada G1V 0A6
    Current affiliation:
    1. Direction générale de l'expertise sur la faune et ses habitats, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, 880 Chemin Sainte-Foy, Québec, Québec, Canada G1S 4X4.
    • Département de biologie and Centre d'études nordiques, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada G1V 0A6.===

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  • Sandra Hamel,

    1. Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics, Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
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  • Julien Mainguy,

    1. Département de biologie and Centre d'études nordiques, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada G1V 0A6
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  • Steeve D. Côté

    1. Département de biologie and Centre d'études nordiques, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada G1V 0A6
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  • Associate Editor: Scott McCorquodale

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.

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