Scientists working in Yellowstone National Park have shown how pregnant and new mother moose use humans to help ward off potential predators.
Why did the moose cross the road?
The scientists tracked a number of moose starting in the year 1995 to study their movements over time. They found, to their surprise, that mother moose in around Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks move an average of 400 feet closer to roads around the time they give birth.
In this article on BBC.com, Dr. Joel Berger calls the behavior, “using human infrastructure as a shield.” He adds, “The study’s results indicate that moose and other prey species find humans more benign and hence move to humans for safety, whereas predators do not because we humans tend to be less kind to predators.”
The article also claims that monkeys, elephants and deer have also been witnessed using humans as shields.
Safety might not be the only thing the moose mothers are seeking…
Brown bears are known for rarely going anywhere near roads. The study has obvious ramifications on our image of National Parks as displaying “untouched” wilderness. Turns out the parks’ animal behaviors may be more affected by us than we thought.