Opportunities to view and interact with wildlife are often an important part of high quality recreational experiences. Such interactions frequently include wildlife feeding, resulting in food-conditioned behaviors that may cause harm to both wildlife and visitors. This study developed and applied efficient protocols for simultaneously evaluating wildlife feeding-related behaviors of visitors and related foraging behaviors of chipmunks along a trail in Zion National Park. Unobtrusive observation protocols permitted an evaluation of educational messages delivered, and documentation of wildlife success in obtaining human food and the strength of their food attraction behavior. Significant improvements were documented for some targeted visitor behaviors and human food available to chipmunks, with minor differences between treatments. Replication of these protocols as part of a long-term monitoring program can help protected area managers evaluate and improve the efficacy of their interventions and monitor the strength of food attraction behavior in wildlife.
Additional publication details
Wildlife feeding in parks: methods for monitoring the effectiveness of educational interventions and wildlife food attraction behaviors