ASA 125th Meeting Ottawa 1993 May

4pAB9. Sonic boom/animal stress project report on elk, antelope, and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

Thomas D. Bunch

Gar W. Workman

Depts. of Animal, Dairy, and Verterinary Sci. and Fisheries and Wildlife, Utah State Univ., Logan, UT

The animal/noise project was initiated as a result of a proposed extension of the Air Force Gandy supersonic range (MOA) in western Utah and eastern Nevada. The research was conducted at the Utah State University Green Canyon Ecology Center, and at Gold Hill, in the desert of northwestern Utah. The experimental animals included elk, antelope, and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. These animals were instrumented with heart rate and body temperature transmitters, which were surgically implanted in the animals. The animals were released in large enclosures, and in some cases were released to the wild for disturbance tests. This was done to determine effects of various disturbances on heart rate and to establish a baseline physiologic database of normal heart rate and body temperature. The animals were subjected to various types of disturbances, including people on foot, motorcycles, four-wheeled vehicles, fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, and F-16 jet aircraft flown subsonic and supersonic, etc. These projects indicated that animals habituated to most disturbance factors in a short period of time. The exceptions included people on foot who entered the research enclosures where the animals were kept; fixed wing aircraft at low levels of flight; and helicopter flights at low elevations near the animal enclosures. The animals habituated to subsonic and supersonic jet overflights after about four passes over the animals. This habituation seemed to be permanent, as these same animals did not respond when tested at a later date.