BEND, OR -- Wildlife biologist Lauri Turner says visitors to local forests often don't realize the impact their presence has on the animals that live there.
She'll talk about that negative influence today, as part of the "Greatest Good" lecture series, at OSU Cascades. "Recreation use is increasing quite a bit. We are starting to see increased impacts out there. Most people think that because they're not in a motorized vehicle or snowmobile or motorcycle, that they don't have impacts, and so we're just trying to start the conversation, and educate people that, in fact, we all have impacts out there."
Turner believes it is possible to balance recreation and wildlife safety and says determining how best to do that starts with communication and education, because the impacts are so varied. "Displacement, habitat avoidance, trampling, garbage, dogs off leash, things like that, but most people don't see the animals, the animals may leave before they approach them, so they don't get to see what kind of impact they are having."
Turner uses Ryan Ranch Meadow as an example where recreation has caused the native elk to change their patterns, and believes, if we don't find a balance between recreation and wildlife needs, the results could be dire. "Many of our wildlife populations will suffer and it could lead to reduced populations, reduced reproductive success, and eventually, more species being listed as endangered or threatened and so we want to try and avoid that and provide for recreation while providing for the wildlife resource, as well."
The Wildlife Impact Lecture begins at 4 PM in Tykeson Hall at OSU Cascades, as part of the Discover Your Forest series, presented by Deschutes National Forest. It's free and open to the public.