Local environmentalists and zoologists are warning that the continuing explosions in the Carmel Tunnels are interfering with the mating habits of native animals and have caused a significant reduction in the number of young born this season, reports Yediot Haifa. They say deer and hyrax (shafan sela) have been particularly affected by the explosions, which are being carried out as the NIS 1 billion Carmel Tunnels project carves its way through the mountain beneath Haifa. According to the report, local zoos have noticed a reduction in the number of litters this year, especially among their deer, while naturalists have reported seeing far fewer hyrax. One zookeeper said it was likely that snakes and porcupines were affected as well, as animals that lived in burrows were especially sensitive to vibrations in the ground and probably thought they were caused by earthquakes. He said the animals were behaving just as humans would if they feared their house might collapse on them in an earthquake - they were fleeing to open ground, "making it difficult to focus on procreation." A spokesman for the Carmel Tunnels project said that before the work ever began a study had been done to examine the likely effects on local wildlife and the best ways to minimize them. He said a project of this scale was bound to cause disturbances, but once it was complete, traffic and air pollution would be less than they had been previously and the quality of life would be improved for both people and animals. The spokesman said that during the construction of the famed Bahai Gardens in Haifa, a project that took 11 years to complete, the local wildlife had fled the area, but today all the native fauna had returned.