Tests Suggest That Animals Are More Scared of Humans Than Of Bears, Wolves, Dogs
Animals are most scared by humans, tests conducted on badgers in a United Kingdom (UK) forest have suggested.
This is not surprising when considering that humans kill animals at rates of up to 14 times greater than other predators, according to a report on sciencemag.
To gauge the level of fear which animals feel towards humans, the Western University from Ontario, Canada, conducted tests in Wytham Woods, a forest in Oxfordshire, UK.
The woods are home to many badgers who live in communal burrows, called setts.
Badgers are mesocarnivores, carnivores whose meat intake comprises 50-70% of their diet.
Although it is not legal to hunt badgers in the UK, farmers have admitted to killing badgers and it’s estimated that 10,000 badgers are killed for sport annually.
People kill 4.3 times as many mesocarnivores as non-human predators do yearly.
Other than humans, dogs pose the greatest threat to Britain’s badgers. Hundreds of years ago, larger carnivores such as wolves and bears would also have been predators.
What makes badgers most scared?
To find out what makes the animals most scared, the researchers first set up motion detector cameras and later played different sounds clip samples – those of bears, wolves, dogs, sheep and humans.
They studied the behavior of the badgers as they eventually ventured out of their dens in search of food.
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It was found that bear and dog audio would delay the badgers’ foraging. However, the badgers would eventually come out – even when the animal sounds were busy playing.
With human audio being played, the results were significantly different.
Some of the animals were discouraged from leaving their setts at all. Those that did eventually venture out, waited 189% – 228% longer than the badgers which had heard the bear or dogs sounds. Over half of the badgers waited until the human sounds completely stopped playing before they appeared.
What affect will animals being scared of people have?
The distortion of ecosystem processes is one concern.
The worry is that animals fearing humans could change their feeding habits. Larger carnivores help maintain a healthy ecosystem. This is because they stop the smaller creatures from wiping out the species below them on the food chain.
This could potentially lead to the extinction of plants, insects and animals.
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Image Featured: Giedrius Stakauskas