Humans force wild animals into tight spots, or send them far from home.

The COVID pandemic has shown us that disruptions to the way we move around, complete daily activities and interact with each other can shatter our wellbeing. This doesn’t apply only to humans. Wildlife across the globe find themselves in this situation every day, irrespective of a global pandemic.

Human disturbances, on average, restricted an animal’s movements by 37%. That’s like needing to travel several extra miles to get to work each day. The ability to travel is essential to animal survival because it allows animals to find mates, food and shelter, escape predators and competitors, and avoid disturbances and threats.

Because animal movement is linked to many important ecological processes — such as pollination, seed dispersal and soil turnover — disruptions to movement can cascade through ecosystems.

This study involved analyzing published data on changes in animal movement in response to different types of disturbance or habitat modification by humans. This included agriculture, logging, grazing, recreation, hunting, and pollution, among others.

Changes in movement are very common, with two-thirds of the 719 cases comprising an increase or decrease in movement of 20% or more. More than one-third of cases changed by 50% or more.

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