Everyone and their brother have opinions on the noise and ruckus ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes, and other off-roaders have on wildlife. 

"Your RZR is too loud, man! You're scaring away the deer!" you'll hear from some old hats. And hikers, bird watchers, and wildlife lovers will get all hot and bothered by a dirt bike or ATV rolling past as they do their level best to get on Touron's of Yellowstone. But according to a recent scientific study, deer, elk, bear, and other wildlife don't really give a hoot about your off-road vehicle.

Do you know what they do care about? Your loud-ass mouth. 

Published in the July issue of Current Biology, asked the question of how noise "alters" the behavior and space use of wildlife. According to the researchers, "We designed a field-based experiment to both isolate and quantify the effects of recreation noise on several mammal species and test the effects of different recreation types and group sizes. Animals entering our sampling arrays triggered cameras to record video and broadcast recreation noise from speakers ∼20 m away. Our design allowed us to observe and classify behaviors of wildlife as they were exposed to acoustic stimuli."

As such, the study grabbed data from big game species such as mule deer, elk, red fox, black bears, moose, pronghorn, cougars, coyotes, and wolves. And over 1,000 triggers were recorded. 

Deer Listening to OHVs
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But what the researchers found was pretty interesting, as stimuli simulating large groups of hikers or mountain bikers were far more likely to provoke flee responses than your average OHV. "Noise from larger groups of vocal hikers and mountain bikers caused the highest probability of fleeing (6–8 times more likely to flee)," states the study. That said, OHV noise does have an effect, it's just not as great of an effect as everyone's mouths.

However, they did remain more aware of stimuli for longer when OHVs passed. So if you're hunting, you might have to stay quieter for longer after you've reached your unit. Or, you know, switch to an e-bike, EV motorcycle, or EV UTV for your off-road hunting activities. 

What was also interesting is that large carnivores, i.e. mountain lions and wolves, didn't really care about the stimuli at all, though black bears peaced the heck out, as they're known to avoid human habitation. The researchers also note that they didn't test for human scent in how it affects animals, but that they were only looking at noise for the purposes of this research. To that end, carnivores may show stress or leave the area if scent is involved. 

What all this means is, everyone should be quieter in the woods. And, if you're looking to recreate and see animals, shut the hell up. 

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