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Scientists: It’s Time For An In-Depth Study of Animals During Pandemic

Deer running free in quiet East London Neighborhoods

by Neal Colgrass

Jellyfish gliding through the calm waters of Venice, Italy. Wild mountain goats “running rampant” in a small Welsh town. Deer were seen in “usually bustling areas” of Toronto.

At least anecdotally, there’s evidence of animals advancing during our absence, for which scientists have coined a new term: the “anthropause.” “We noticed that people started referring to the lockdown period as the ‘Great Pause,’ but felt that a more precise term would be helpful,” a team of scientists writes in Nature Ecology & Evolution, per the Smithsonian.

“We propose ‘anthropause’ to refer specifically to a considerable global slowing of modern human activities, notably travel.” The authors say it’s an “amazing” opportunity to learn more about “how humans and wildlife interact on this planet.”

They call for “urgent steps,” like the pooling of global research on animals and easy distribution of the data, per the BBC. The authors cite the recent “COVID-19 Bio-Logging Initiative”—a worldwide effort to follow animals’ behavior and stress levels via little tracking devices called “bio-loggers”—as a fine precedent.

But as Wired points out, scientists have much to learn about the anthropause in a limited time. For example, it’s long been unclear whether animals are afraid of humans or our built environment; perhaps the anthropause will tell us.

Scientists also see the downside, with poaching reportedly on the rise in countries that relied on tourist dollars. And how many anecdotes are just social-media hype? “A quantitative scientific investigation is urgently needed,” the authors write.

Edited via Newser.

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Posted by on July 2, 2020. Filed under Coronavirus,NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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5 Responses to Scientists: It’s Time For An In-Depth Study of Animals During Pandemic

  1. Neil Bamforth Reply

    July 3, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    Mike : ditto!!

  2. Tall Stacey Reply

    July 2, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Here in the country not much has changed. We still till and plant, loggers are logging, boaters are boating and fishermen fishing. Our village store is as busy as ever. I still see deer and turkeys and rabbits and squirrels and geese and eagles and herons and an occasional bear, snake and beaver, and as usual, I’m up to my butt in groundhogs, possums and raccoons.

    It does upset me some that so many businesses are “mask optional”, even thought the State has ordered masks for all public appearances. There have been no covid cases reported in my zip code, but I worry with all the “Summer People” here from elsewhere. I live at the junction of 3 counties, none of them have had more than 10 deaths, all in distant parts, but some cases reported in nearby zip codes. I fear my neighbor’s complacency may come back to haunt us.

    As for animals, I don’t think they have any fear of our developed environments. I’m not even sure they are afraid of humans as such. Sudden noise or movements startle them, as do moving machines. But calm and quiet, not perceived as threat, most will just carry on doing what they do in spite of your presence.

  3. Glenn Geist Reply

    July 2, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    Well my dogs are getting extra attention as we play with them more now that we’re hermits. I think they’re happy with it all.

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      July 3, 2020 at 8:37 am

      Mine are loving it, because I’m giving them more attention than ever. They are my family.

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