Lockdown: Aylesbury Vale residents urged to take part in animal study while staying at home

Aylesbury Vale residents can take part in study by tracking their urban wildlife.
A fox in Aylesbury's Old TownA fox in Aylesbury's Old Town
A fox in Aylesbury's Old Town

Have you been spotting more foxes than usual since lockdown began, are deers coming into your garden for the first time ever, or have you seen a badger?

Well researchers at Keele University are conducting a study to assess how the coronavirus lockdown has impacted on urban animal behaviours, and they want to hear from Aylesbury Vale residents with stories to share.

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak governments across the world have declared a period of social isolation resulting in cities and town centres becoming quieter whilst residential gardens and outdoor spaces are getting busier.

In recent weeks there have been reports of animals already adapting to the reduced human activity including Kashmiri goats roaming around Llandudno, North Wales, troops of monkeys in Singapore, wild boars in cities across Europe and Coyotes wandering streets during daylight in USA.

But the lockdown could also be having a detrimental impact.

For example urban foxes which regular plunder bins and takeaway boxes in town centres may be going short, likewise ducks and geese in parks who receive regular treats from members of the public may now be having to look elsewhere.

Lead researcher Professor Dawn Scott, an expert in mammal ecology and conservation, will use this unprecedented time to try to collect information and answer the study’s overarching question - How have urban animals responded to changes in human activity during the COVID-19 lockdown?

The research will collect records on any observations of unusual animal behaviour during the lockdown, determine the effects of reduction in human activity in city and town centres on urban wildlife, and the effects increased human activity in gardens and outdoors space is having.

To take part in the study fill in this short questionnaire on urban wildlife by clicking HERE. The data will be combined with other data from media searches to produce a report on the response of urban animals to lockdown across the globe.

Professor Scott, Head of the School of Life Sciences at Keele University, said: “Urban animals have been able to adapt to our landscape and live alongside towns, cities and suburbs so we know they are already highly adaptable. This flexibility in behaviour means they can usually quickly respond to changing conditions, including the absence of humans, which is happening during the lockdown.

“Across the world we have seen reports of animals roaming cities and in locations that they wouldn’t normally be seen during the day. Social isolation is an opportunity for many to learn more about nature and how we can support it. We’re asking people to take part in our study and help us discover how urban animals are responding due to our change in behaviour.”