Report: Noise could stress wildlife out

October 21, 2009, 7:48 am
A hike through the wilds of Rocky Mountain National Park or the Comanche Peak Wilderness yields the sound of rustling leaves or the calming white noise of a swift stream — sounds the National Park Service views as natural resources to be protected.

Often, though, those natural sounds are interrupted by some things that aren't so wild: an endless procession of jets headed toward Denver International Airport, cars and buses on a highway, or the noise from crowds of tourists.

A team of scientists from CSU and the Park Service has just published a report that said all that noise could pose a threat to wildlife. The report is part of ongoing research at Colorado State University about how noise from buses, jets, energy development and other industrial sources stress out not just wildlife, but people, too.

People visit wilderness and national parks to find quiet and get away from the stress created by the noise of civilization, said Peter Newman, associate professor of natural resources at CSU. But, he said, increasing unnatural noise in parks and other wild places could end up causing stress for both people and animals where it’s least welcome.

That noise might prevent some animals from communicating with each other, and they might focus on the human source of the noise or react to it like they’re being chased by a predator, report co-author and CSU conservation biology associate professor Kevin Crooks said.