Noah Perlut, Ph.D., associate professor and chair in the Department of Environmental Studies, is curious about the impact that connecting two sections of the Eastern Trail in Scarborough, Maine, will have on wildlife in the area.
A 1.6-mile gap currently exists on the Eastern Trail, interrupting off-road travel. Work to close the gap will include the construction of two bridges. The finished project will provide 16 continuous off-road miles reaching from Bug Light in South Portland to Downtown Saco.
Perlut is involving his students in a five-year project to study the wildlife in the gap area before, during and after the construction of the project.
In the spring of 2017, Perlut downloaded the first videos from a game camera he had hung low on a tree just off the Eastern Trail near the Nonesuch River in order to record the wildlife living nearby.
He told the Maine Sunday Telegram he was surprised that the first thing he observed in the video was a pair of ducks waddling through the forest.
“I was predicting more common terrestrial species like gray squirrels or turkey,” Perlut said. “A relatively rare migratory duck searching for acorns surprised me. I do not think we have had any other wood ducks since.”
As part of the The GapTracks Project, students from Perlut’s Terrestrial Wildlife class analyze data collected from eight remote cameras. Two of the cameras are set up where the trail currently exists, and six are placed where the extension will be built.