Noise pollution is drowning out Mother Nature in our national parks and wilderness.

Generally the loudest thing you hear when hiking is a rushing river, your boots on a rocky trail or your own breath while you take on that incline on the trail. But if trends continue, you may have a hard time hearing birdsong or that bear coming up behind you..

According to a new report in the journal Science, human noise pollution has doubled in 63 percent (almost 2/3) of our protected wilderness areas due to transportation, development, and extractive land use and even cell phones.

“Human-produced noise doubled background noise levels in a majority of protected areas and substantially affected critical habitat are                as for endangered species.”


Rachel Buxton, an acoustic ecologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins,, told the Washington Post that she was winter hiking in the remote wilds of southwest Colorado

“But every 30 minutes, a jet flew overhead, shattering the fragile calm. You’re in the middle of nowhere, yet you still can’t escape the sounds of humans.”


She and her team found that human noises at least double the background sound levels in 63 percent of protected areas in the country.

“Previous research has shown that noise pollution affects the behavior of animals, including how they search for food.” Scientific American


Buxton says that while you should be able to hear a bird at 100 feet, in most areas its more like 50 feet. In 21 percent of the areas, it’s 10 times louder than background noise, and you might hear that bird at 10 feet.

She hopes her research leads to better protection of the soundscapes of our wilderness before we drown out Mother Nature.

Until it does, “SHHHHHhhhhhhh…….”

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