(Mirror Daily, United States) – When larger predators started to disappear, raccoons took over the Gulf Islands in Canada wreaking havoc and decimating the crab and worm populations. But the scientists soon discovered that fear balances ecosystems, without the actual fear factor being present.
The Gulf Islands from the British Columbia part of Canada were once inhabited by more than just crabs, worms, and raccoons. The fluffy adorable thieves were kept in control by cougars, wolves, and bears. But the big, carnivorous predators were too much of a threat to the human population of the area, so they managed to relocate them at a more safe distance.
After its main predators were out of sight and out of mind, the masked scavengers started to do as they pleased, storming and wolfing around the coast as out-of-control frat boys. Biologists found half-eaten crabs and fish laying around the coast, a sign that the raccoons were taking more than they should and feasting upon everything they desired without looking over their shoulders, fearing the approach of a potential predator.
But fear balances ecosystems, fear is what makes the animals respect the natural order of things. Because they couldn’t just bring back the cougars, wolves, and bears, the scientists decided to take a new approach to the raccoon problem and devised an experiment where they made use of a sort of sound-based scarecrow.
For several months, the favorite pastime of the researchers was scaring the living daylights out of the nocturnal mammals. And the results were more than satisfying.
Thanks to their sound-based scarecrow which was nothing more than audio renderings of barking dogs, the raccoons stopped acting like spoiled, entitled teenagers and returned to a more normal behavior where they hunted only what they needed and stayed clear of the coastline.
The crab and red crab population were rapidly refreshed after the experiment proving that fear balances ecosystems.
The fear factor itself, in this case real mad barking dogs, was not present at all. The raccoons never encountered them in person and then decided to chance their destructive ways, the only heard them, and they were only warned of the dangers that might come to them if they trespass again.
The experiment only serves to prove that the scarecrows work on the idea that fear balances ecosystems. The researchers didn’t only discover a new way of keeping the raccoon population in line, but they also proved that complex emotions are not just specific to humankind.
Image source: www.ytimg.com