The world is changing. Wildlife depends on the environment around it and both are being greatly impacted. Animals are no longer able to adapt to the changes that humans are creating; and technology is one of the key players in this encroachment into wildlife. The largest impacts have come from industrialization, the advancements in wind and energy sources and general encroachment into animal habitats. New technology is also creating issues with drones and smartphones also have considerable impacts.
The Biggest Things That Impact Wildlife Negatively
- Habitat destruction (buildings, cities, roads, deforestation, etc.)
- Hunting and killing (driving some species into endangerment and even extinction)
- Introducing foreign species into habitats
- Trash and plastics
- Drones, smartphones, and cameras
Human development has a massive impact on other species. The industrialization of North America is one of the ways that the topography has been transformed, shifting from the natural wilderness to buildings and roads. The director of Wildlife Services at WildNorth Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, Kim Blomme, says it is “Technology like automobiles, buildings, windows, and fences. All of these things have affected wildlife in one way or another.” This has had a huge impact on wildlife in an alarmingly short period of time.
Blomme overall says that “Humans have definitely done more damage than good, but that’s partly because we as human beings haven’t quite got to the point where we think enough to understand the consequences of some of the things that we do.” The physical changes to the land from industrialization are not the only ways human activity has impacted wildlife; our advancements in the way we travel, get energy, and ward off pest and animals are some of the dominant examples.
All this change has repercussions, and animals are some of the main victims. Melanie Whalen, the rehabilitation manager for the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation, says that the reason most animals come into the center is because of some sort of human activity, “Getting hit by cars, getting blown into power lines and getting electrocuted, flying into wind turbines, swallowing pesticides or ingesting some form of lead.”
Even something small like going too close to a wild animal can disturb them and throw them off their normal daily patterns. Joe Pavelka, a professor for the Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership program at Mount Royal University, states how important this daily pattern is, “When we throw them off of that then they’re not going to grow and sustain themselves as well. Everything we do in nature and back country, if we intrude in their space and disturb them then that’s a negative impact.”
It is not just old technology that is negatively affecting wildlife. New technology such as drones, smartphones, and cameras continue to become more popular each day. This encourages more humans to intrude on wildlife on a more frequent basis and unknowingly disturbs nature further.
One of the ways this new technology causes humans to directly affect animals is when they get too close for ‘that perfect selfie’. John Wilmshurst, executive director of the Alberta Chapter of the Wildlife Society, says people who are getting too close and taking selfies with wildlife can be “Detrimental because you know in those cases if an animal on the roadside is aggressive towards somebody who’s not paying attention to context. And then wildlife officials frequently have to destroy the animal.”
Another example of how new technology affects animals is drones. In particular, drone interactions with bears have been shown to cause their heart rates to spike or scare them into situations they would not naturally enter simply by flying too close. Wilmshurst highlighted an example of this with a viral video that shows “How [persistently] a bear was climbing a snowy mountain, it occurred to people afterwards that the drone that took that footage was probably the technology that forced the animals to climb that steep slope to begin with.”
Despite this, technology can also be an advocate for nature with “Things like BBC documentaries and famous landscape photographers bringing awareness to the wilderness about the pressing issues,” says Beci Bonkowski, a landscape photographer living in Victoria, B.C.
If you want to learn more on how to help wildlife here are a few links you can look at!
Produced by: Mica Bot