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Do you love seeing wildlife when you’re wandering around in the woods? Like a majestic deer, or a beautiful bird? Well, the love might not be very mutual. In fact, many animals avoid us, even if we don’t mean any harm.

So, what impact do our outdoor activities have on wildlife? We set out to answer this question by radio tracking the whereabouts of red deer and capercaillie (also called wood grouse—a kind of bird) in the Black Forest in Germany. Deer are common, but capercaillie are on the brink of extinction in that area. 

We found that both red deer and capercaillie avoided hiking trails in our study areas. Interestingly, the extent of avoidance changed between the seasons, and, in the case of deer, even between day and night! Effective natural area management plans that aim at protecting wildlife and reducing human animal conflict need to take these temporal differences into account.

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