U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

January 2003


An ongoing challenge for wildlife managers is that target species habituate to or forget about hazing, even though the animals must be somewhat stressed by the hazing. Although stress and efficient memory formation/retrieval are considered to be incompatible, research suggests that the effect of stress on memory is complex. Mild and intense stress can impair memory formation and chronic stress can disrupt memory retrieval. Intermediate stress, however, actually enhances the formation of new memories, particularly long-term memories. Unfortunately, these conclusions are based data from only a very few domesticated species under highly controlled conditions. In nature the variation in baseline stress levels of animals are caused by differences in food availability, reproductive state, social standing, and other factors. Our current understanding of the effects of natural stress and hazing on wildlife is inadequate. We need research on wild animals, particularly under field conditions to understand the interaction of natural and human produced stresses. Such knowledge will help managers fine-tune their hazing efforts to maximize the long-term benefits of keeping birds away from airfields.