The United States is a great big place offering a variety of landscapes: booming cities, sleepy towns, and areas of wilderness offering unparallelled sights and experiences. These spaces are shrinking, however, as new buildings are planned and developed, whittling away the habitat of numerous wild animals.
GPS tracking collars are helping scientists better understand the migration patterns and territory of some of these animals in the hopes of leaving areas untouched. Jodi Hilty, director of the North American division of the Wildlife Conservation Society, says that this form of research is vital “to make sure we don’t accidentally cut off [migration] routes.”
Researchers in Colorado have been tracking several species using GPS tracking collars and have learned some astounding facts about where the animals go, and more specifically, how far. The facts as to how far these animals actually roam may surprise the general public, but they shouldn’t, say researchers. “We’ve boxed nature in quite a bit, and sometimes she just busts out.”
A mountain lion was recently struck by an SUV in Connecticut, and after a few tests, officials determined the animal came all the way from South Dakota. That’s nearly 1,500 miles. A wolverine from Wyoming was tracked all the way to Colorado. A lynx starting in Colorado ended up near Wichita, Kansas and was brought back to Colorado, only to end up being struck and killed by a car near Des Moines, Iowa.
Some scientists believe that the animals that were brought from outside of the area, for example an animal that may have been the victim of habitat loss due to development that was placed into a new habitat with the hopes it would thrive, are just trying to get back to the area they came from. Others believe the animal is roaming to find a mate or food, as is typical with young males.
Whatever reason the animals have for roaming, GPS tracking collars will be the key to ensuring man does not destroy the animals’ habitats and migration patterns. It is crucial for their survival, and will help man and beast coexist.
Article Written by Khristen Foss