LITTLE ROCK — When bears and deer occasionally wander into city streets and suburbs, the news always takes notice, but all sorts of wildlife make a living right in the middle of many cities around the country. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Hendrix College have launched a new research and outreach project that may shed some light on how wildlife in urban areas adapt to the presence of people.
Remote cameras have been placed throughout many urban parks in central Arkansas to capture wildlife interactions in some of the most unlikely of places. The cameras are triggered by motion and heat and can take images day or night with infrared technology to give researchers a complete picture of each location where they have been placed.
AGFC’s Research, Evaluation and Compliance Division and Geographic Information System Team, Maureen McClung, Associate Professor at Hendrix College, and Kirsten Bartlow, the agency’s Watchable Wildlife Program coordinator, worked together to establish locations for the project.
“Arkansans are more aware of wildlife than people in many regions of the country, but people are still shocked when they see some of that wildlife in their own backyard,” Bartlow said. “And this project will help them not only realize those animals are there, but what sort of benefits they provide.”
Ashley Gramza, a social scientist with the AGFC, agrees, noting images already collected of hawks and foxes controlling rodent populations.
“It may also open people’s eyes to some unintended consequences from their actions,” Gramza said. “With all the foxes that we see eating rats, you could see how putting out rat poison could harm more than just the animals you’re trying to remove.”