Wildlife experiences no significant increase in stress as a result of recreational aircraft activity, according to a study released by the Recreational Aviation Foundation.
The two-year study, which researched the relationship between aircraft noise and wildlife as a consideration of land management planning, was funded by a $10,000 Giving Back grant from the AOPA Foundation, and funding from the Montana Department of Transportation and the nonprofit Recreational Aviation Foundation.
Wildlife biologists were flown in and out of backcountry airstrips during the research, which involved a “sophisticated technique of evaluating stress levels in mammals by measuring the presence of stress hormones.” White-tailed deer and mule deer were studied because of their wide distribution and population densities, the Bozeman, Montana-based organization said in a news release.
The study report, “Effects of Backcountry Aviation on Deer Stress Physiology,” concluded that “there is no significant increase in stress levels among deer due to recreational aviation activity (e.g., takeoffs, landings, prop noise, camping, human presence) at backcountry airstrips compared to that expressed by deer as a result of similar, but non-aviation recreational activity (e.g., camping, motorized access to campground or trailhead, human presence) at campground and recreation access sites.”
One of the report’s authors, F. Richard Hauer, added that a recreational aircraft “is one of the lowest-impact means of backcountry access.”