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Largest-Ever Camera-Trap Research of Michigan Wildlife

Largest-Ever Camera-Trap Research of Michigan Wildlife

We spend a lot of time going through a lot of brush, a lot of bramble, sometimes we have to cross logs, cross rivers in order for us to find particular sites to put the cameras. It’s not easy work, but it’s super fun. We’re really interested in understanding how species vary across space their different behaviors what they’re eating the type of parasites they have but our first question is, is the species there. So before we can figure out what a coyote eats or what a raccoon eats we need to confirm that those species are actually there. We put out remote cameras to survey anything that walks by it triggers a camera to take a picture you never know what you’re going to see in the field so one day I might stumble across a bear cub or a skunk every day is different. When you first extract the SD card it’s like Christmas when you pop into the computer there’s this feeling of excitement that never really goes away after your first camera trap… seeing hundreds and hundreds and thousands of deer pictures but when you hit that first coyote or that first bobcat or a bear it’s really exciting. There’s a couple different habitat types that kind of merge in a single spot we want to try to get as close to that intersection of different habitat types, so we have about 350 meters to go. Some studies actually do pick their points ahead of time, I don’t do that. I want to actually physically see the site before I say okay this is where we’re going to put a camera but we do make sure we have the correct amount of spacing we want to cover the entire study area so we need to space them accordingly and here we’re using about 500 meters so about a half a kilometer is how far we’re spacing the cameras apart. We’re literally crawling on the ground to make sure that the camera will trigger and detect whatever walks in front of it. I think the coolest thing about the camera trap research is that there’s so much that we can do with it, and there’s so much possibility, there’s so much opportunity there’s everything from basic identification to being able to utilize metadata and you can study things like how an animal is utilizing a certain area there’s so much data and so much exciting things that you can extract from a simple picture.

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