Snapshot Saturday: August 11th, 2018

“What’s that you say? Snapshot Wisconsin is now accepting volunteers to host trail cameras STATEWIDE?” You heard right! Equipment and training are provided free to accepted applicants. Camera must be placed on private or public land of at least 10 acres, and checked once every three months.

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Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/. Classify photos from all the trail cameras at www.snapshotwisconsin.org.

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Snapshot Wisconsin STATEWIDE!

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We are excited to announce that Snapshot Wisconsin is entering
Phase 2, meaning the project is now open in all 72 counties on both private and public land!

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Snapshot Wisconsin launched in 2016, starting off in only two counties. The project has since grown reaching 26 counties on privately owned lands, while accepted applications from educators and tribal affiliates statewide. Phase 2 of the project will provide an even more accurate “snapshot” of Wisconsin’s unique and diverse wildlife, while expanding the opportunity to all corners of the state for volunteers to experience firsthand the fauna occupying their wild lands.

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The Snapshot Wisconsin team is also debuting a collection of lesson plans, all incorporating photos, data, and concepts related to the project.

Visit our newly updated website for further information regarding the project, sign up for the monthly e-newsletter or to host your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera today!

August Volunteer of the Month

Volunteer of the Month is a new addition to the blog with the goal of highlighting volunteers that go above and beyond with their participation in Snapshot Wisconsin.

August’s Volunteer of the Month goes to Skylar from Marquette County! Skylar has been with Snapshot Wisconsin for over two years, one of his motivations for joining the project was to bridge his interests in nature and technology. As a teacher, he utilizes his Snapshot Wisconsin camera to help connect students with the diverse wildlife residing in their school forest. When asked about his fondest memories with the project, Skylar responded:

“It was really amazing to see our photos of a fisher, or fishers, at the school forest contribute to the southward expansion of that species’ known range in our state. That was something that was really exciting to share with the students especially because it showed them clearly why their work on this project matters and how they are contributing to science that has an impact.”

Thank you, Skylar and the awesome students at High Marq! Thank you to all our trail camera hosts and Zooniverse volunteers for helping us discover our wildlife together.

Snapshot Saturday: August 4th, 2018

Check out this cow and calf duo captured on a Snapshot Wisconsin camera in the Black River State Forest. This elk calf already weighed 52 pounds when it was collared June 4th, 2018 – just two days after being born! Happy Snapshot Saturday!

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Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/. Classify photos from all the trail cameras at www.snapshotwisconsin.org.

July #SuperSnap

July’s #SuperSnap features a mother opossum, called a jill, carrying her babies, called joeys, on her back! Joeys are quite small when they are born, only about the size of jelly beans (source). The joeys continue to develop in their mother’s pouch until they are large enough to ride along on her back, as we see here. Thank you to @enog for nominating this series!

Continue classifying photos on Zooniverse and hashtagging your favorites for a chance to be featured in the next #SuperSnap blog post. Check out all of the nominations by searching “#SuperSnap” on the Snapshot Wisconsin Talk boards.

New Blog Series: Non-Invasive Surveying Methods

From the Snapshot Wisconsin program, you may be familiar with wildlife monitoring using trail cameras. Trail cameras are one wildlife monitoring tool classified into a group of monitoring techniques that are considered non-invasive, meaning that the technique causes little or no impact on the animal’s normal activity, ecology or physiology. By contrast, invasive monitoring techniques include any type of wildlife monitoring that has a direct, human caused impact on an animal (GPS collaring, tagging, close observation are a few examples). In this blog post series, we are going to highlight other non-invasive monitoring methods and include ways you can get involved in these types of non-invasive monitoring! Our first post on non-invasive monitoring is focused on.. tracking!

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A gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) left tracks on a piece of paper that utilized bait and a track plate to collect non-invasive information such as species and occupancy.

Tracking involves locating animal footprints and identifying the species. This monitoring technique can be done during all times of year in snow, mud, dirt or sand. You can learn a lot about an animal by its tracks. For example, you can tell what gait the animal was in (walk, trot, lope, spring), where it was heading to and from and if the animal was travelling in a group or alone.

Taking accurate measurements of tracks can help ID an animal. If you don’t have a ruler, use your foot or hand for size reference for identification later. This was taken by Taylor Peltier, from the Snaspshot Wisconsin team. Any guess who it belongs to?

Researchers can use tracks to estimate abundance, home ranges and behavior patterns. This can be especially helpful for monitoring more elusive animals that are sensitive to human disturbance.

One research project that uses tracks to estimate abundance is the Wisconsin winter wolf count. Using tracks in the snow, the DNR can estimate a minimum wolf count. For more information about that project, check out this link.

Stay tuned for more non-invasive survey method blog posts! Upcoming will be a post featuring how scat, hair and even eDNA play a role in wildlife research.

 

Snapshot Saturday: July 28th, 2018

Did you know fawns have an average of nearly 300 spots? Check out some of our favorite White-tail Deer fawns captured on Snapshot Wisconsin’s cameras!

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Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/. Classify photos from all the trail cameras at www.snapshotwisconsin.org.

Snapshot Wisconsin: Behind the Scenes

While Snapshot Wisconsin’s volunteers are busy deploying trail cameras, uploading photos, and classifying wildlife on Zooniverse – what on Earth is there left for the staff to do? Well, with over one thousand project volunteers, there’s quite a bit that must go on behind the scenes as well! From prepping equipment, to answering volunteer questions, to getting lost in the woods (only sometimes) – no two days look the same. This blog post will give you a “snapshot” into life behind the scenes for staff members.

A lot of time is spent preparing equipment. Every camera needs specialized software and labels, SD cards, batteries, a charger, a camera mount and snazzy bag to hold it all together. Equipment needs to be recorded in a database, and frequently stocked up on for incoming volunteers! Some weeks staff members are sending upwards of 30 equipment kits to newly enrolled volunteers who have completed training.

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For technical difficulties, malfunctioning equipment or general questions, staff members are only a phone call or email away! Problem solving skills are a must for the Snapshot Wisconsin team. Rock star staff member Vivek can frequently be spotted answering volunteer calls while simultaneously working to maintain the Snapshot Wisconsin database, with over 22 million photos this can be a full time job in itself.

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One of our favorite “behind the scenes” task involves exploring pieces of the state where the staff can witness some Wisconsin wildlife first hand, and interact with the project volunteers. Staff members are constantly kept on their toes with a wide variety of assignments; other daily tasks range from creating lesson plans, to manipulating data, to writing outreach content (example here!) As busy as we can be kept, we all greatly enjoy the work and have such an immense appreciation for our volunteers that keep the project running! Thank you!

Snapshot Saturday: July 21st, 2018

Happy Snapshot Saturday featuring this playful bear and cub duo from Marinette County last July.

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Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/. Classify photos from all the trail cameras at www.snapshotwisconsin.org.

Migratory Birds

As we proceed through Wisconsin’s four seasons each year, you may appreciate the sight of colorful songbirds in springtime and notice the distinctive V-shape formation of Canada Geese as they fly south in the fall. These species are referred to as “migratory birds”, or populations of birds that travel from one place to another at regular times during the year.

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Why do birds migrate?

Birds migrate in search of resources needed for their survival. Migratory birds primarily pursue sources of food or nesting locations to raise their young. In Wisconsin, we see an influx of bird species in springtime as warm weather returns and insect populations increase. As temperatures begin to drop in the fall, food supply dwindles and the birds fly south.

How do birds migrate?

Scientists believe there are many factors that trigger the migration of bird populations. Birds respond to changes in their environment such as day length, temperature, and availability of food resources. Additionally many birds go through hormonal changes with the arrival of new seasons. These hormonal shifts may affect your caged birds at home, you may recognize restless behavior in spring and fall. This restlessness around migratory periods is referred to as zugunruhe.

It isn’t fully understood how birds have developed such impressive navigation skills, but there are several factors that guide them. Birds can use directional information using the sun, stars, and even earth’s magnetic field. Landmarks, position of the setting sun, and even smell plays a role for various species.

How do scientists study migratory birds?

Several methods have been developed to track and study migratory birds including banding, satellite tracking, and by attaching geolocators to individuals. At Snapshot Wisconsin, trail cameras are now being added to the list of tools! Using preliminary data gathered from Zooniverse, the below slideshow shows the detections of Sandhill Cranes on Snapshot Wisconsin cameras throughout the year. The study of migration can be immensely beneficial for conservation efforts by pinpointing wintering and nesting locations to monitor potentially threatened or endangered populations.

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