|Abstract: ||Many protected areas operate with a dual mandate: to conserve the natural environment while simultaneously providing quality recreational opportunities. Although these two goals frequently enhance each other, they will also inevitably conflict. As such, an important question for protected area management and planning is: to what extent do recreational activities and recreational trail networks pose a threat to the wildlife species which occupy the park?
Outdoor recreational activities are often thought to be an environmentally benign activity, however more often than not, it has been reported that outdoor recreation can have negative consequences for wildlife. Having a robust understanding of the current empirical information on the impact of recreational activities on wildlife is required for park and protected area managers to make the most informed decisions. Thus, the purpose of this research project is to assess the impacts of recreational trails and associated trail use on wildlife species in general, with a specific focus on species of concern found within Gatineau Park, Québec.
Although the body of research concerning recreation and wildlife interactions is growing, size-able knowledge gaps remain. Even for species with the greatest amount of research, the information is often inadequate to draw conclusions on whether recreational trail and trail use in protected areas pose a significant negative threat to the wildlife populations within. However, the effect of recreational trails and trail use on wildlife should not be deemed insignificant or non-existent without first conducting species specific monitoring in the field. Although recreational trails and trail use is unlikely to be the primary reason for the species’ endangerment within Gatineau Park, it is a threat worth understanding and investigating further on a species-specific basis.|