Accessibility statement

Engagement with Wildlife

Wildlife on a lake

Previous research has identified positive links between the availability of ‘natural’ spaces and mental health outcomes. However, we know relatively little about the contribution of encounters with non-companion animals (e.g., wildlife/farm animals) within these settings. The potential importance of HAIs that involve non-companion animals for human health and wellbeing has been highlighted and constitutes another area of emerging research in the field.

As part of our larger INTACT survey investigating the role of HAIs in the Covid-19 pandemic, we explored questions related to the role that wildlife and exposure to natural spaces played in the context of widely applied social distancing and isolation measures. Our findings showed that frequent engagement with wildlife was significantly associated with smaller decreases in mental health scores and smaller increases in loneliness scores since lockdown. We also found that regular use of green/blue space since lockdown was significantly associated with higher mental health, lower loneliness and higher wellbeing. These findings highlight the importance of green/blue space and the human-animal relationship, and how they might play a critical role in maintaining people's mental health within a pandemic context.

If you would like to discuss project ideas, please contact Dr Elena Ratschen.