DURHAM, NC (CBS Local) – Alligators on the beach? Killer whales in a river? Mountain lions in the open plains? It may seem like a mismatch, but a new study warns that people should get used to seeing bigger predators in unexpected places in the future.
- A new study says that large predators move in unexpected ways
- Sightings of animals like alligators in populated areas are becoming more common
- Scientists believe that predators re-colonize areas in
- they hunted before their populations fell
According to researchers at Duke University, potentially dangerous animals are not exploring new territory for the first time, they actually try to repopulate former hunting grounds that have been taken over by humans.
"We can no longer capture a great alligator on a beach or coral reef as a weird sighting," Brian Silliman of Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment said in a press release. "It's the old norm as it was before we pushed these species into hard-to-reach shelters and now they're coming back."
The Current Biology journal explains Researchers that the animal populations have recovered in recent years, thanks to nature conservation and environmental protection laws. A side effect of this environmentally friendly policy shift was the return of many large predators that had previously been threatened with extinction.
The Associate Professor of Marine Biology added that species such as sea otters were adapted to life in estuaries containing no rich kelp forests; That is, if climate change destroys their current habitats, the species would not die out. They would just move somewhere else.
In recent weeks hordes of alligators have been terrifying residents in the southern US as they walked on freeways, parking lots and even canopies. Experts in Florida and Texas believed that the 1
Tragedy struck on May 7 after another alligator immigrated to Interstate 95 in South Carolina and was hit by an oncoming motorist. Amber Stanley and her two small children were killed after the collision threw the family's car into a tree.
"The assumption is amplified, both in the scientific and the popular Media that these animals live where they live because they are habitat specialists, "argued Silliman. "This is based on studies and observations made while these populations declined sharply, and now that they are recovering, they surprise us by showing how adaptable and cosmopolitan they really are."