February 04, 2020
Noah Perlut, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Environmental Studies, recently met up with WMTW anchor Steve Minich in Scarborough to discuss the GapTracks project.
Perlut and students in his Terrestrial Wildlife class are studying the impact that connecting two sections of the Eastern Trail in Scarborough will have on wildlife in the area.
A 1.6-mile gap currently exists on the Eastern Trail, interrupting off-road travel. Work is expected to start soon to close the gap, including 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.
Images and videos captured on eight motion-controlled cameras are providing insight into the secret lives of wildlife in the area.
“We know that there are animals here, but people don’t necessarily know how many species are here or how abundant the wildlife is in our backyard,” Perlut told WMTW.
Two of the cameras are set up where the trail currently exists and six are placed where the extension will be built. Students are constantly analyzing data collected from the cameras.
“An army of students go through these pictures day and night looking for what’s there and documenting what’s there so that we can understand the many years of data,” Perlut explained.
That data collected will be compared to data collected after the construction project is complete in order to document changes over time. The study is focused on the types of animals in the gap area, the time of year and day they are present, and the amount and type of use by humans.
The report will air again on a future episode of "Total Maine," a program that airs on WMTW’s sister network CW on Saturday evenings.