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A Wilder View: Tackling the vital research on human impacts on wildlife

Posted at 5:29 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 19:31:02-05

MISSOULA — Even with the urban glow of a city, wildlife still roams.

This segment of A Wilder View features the story of how one individual is tackling the vital research on human impacts on wildlife.

Vast wild landscapes are diminishing and it is becoming increasingly important to study wildlife in urban environments.

Chris Hansen is part of the Boone and Crockett Wildlife Conservation Program at the University of Montana.

"Missoula is not a giant city but it is definitely growing and so evaluating how this development is affecting mammal communities," Hansen said.

Hansen is looking for answers from the impacts on animals by humans, "what effect development does development have on wildlife and mammals in particular."

Hansen uses a noninvasive tool to look at the impacts on wildlife using motion censored camera-traps to detect wildlife.

The camera locations are layered, GPing from highly urban zones and slowly moving outward toward pristine forests," Hanen explained.

He is, therefore, able to look at the patterns of activity, "noting the differences between the wild areas away from peoples backyards opposed to people’s backyards."

With that information, we will have a better understanding of how those animals use urban areas.

The value of his research can attribute to mitigation with mammals and so far he has got over 20 mammal species around Missoula captured on his cameras.

"I think there’s a lot more wildlife than maybe people know," Hansen stated.

Urban wildlife research isn’t his sole passion though, "I just like being involved in research and conservation," he said. "I am interested in learning about that system and using the information."

With more analyses to process throughout his research, Hansen has already got impressive results.

"The coolest results of this project is 200 cameras, 1.5 million photos and nearly every single camera has had a wild mammal on it," Hansen said.

"Doesn’t matter if it’s in the backyard or backcountry, wildlife is everywhere."

He ends with some reassuring words, "the future is bright for coexisting with these species in this town."