Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Camera Traps

Camera traps (some folks call them trail cameras or game cameras) open a new window into the world around us. Hunters use them to scout before hunting season; wildlife managers and scientists use them to determine the species or individuals in an area; and other folks find using them a fascinating hobby.

One of the best aspects of using camera traps is the surprise gift of photos you never expected. I keep a trail camera at one spot that has proven to be a great location; it's yielded pictures of seven different bears so far this year, a bobcat at least once a week, a piebald deer, many different bucks, a mouse and an occasional coyote.

Most of my camera traps are "homebrews" combining an out-of-date digital camera with an infrared sensor and external batteries to provide extended power for the camera.

In the last few days I've changed the cards and batteries on most of my cameras. The camera closest to the house had 167 pictures. Beside the usual photos of squirrels, rabbits, opossum, raccoon and white-tailed deer, there were two photos of a gray fox in the rain. The gray fox first showed up last winter and has since been captured on camera at about two week intervals; once in late winter there were two in one picture, presumably a courting pair.


Beside the fox, the camera near the house had photos of several deer, including a fawn and three different does. The fawns hit the garden fairly hard as they try many different possible foods, browsing on plants the adults never eat.

The cameras further from the house had a greater variety of wildlife including:

 bear:



a bobcat:




and several photogenic deer:








But not all photos from a camera trap are worth keeping --




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