Archive | December 2017

#SuperSnap of the Year

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Thanks to everyone who participated in our first annual #SuperSnap contest!  First prize goes to the 3 bear cubs featured above.  This photo was taken in May of 2017 in Sawyer County.  Thanks to @Lefthooklooie for nominating these cute bear cubs!

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Second prize goes to this happy buck!  This buck was captured on camera in Iowa County in November 2016, thanks to @Snowdigger for this nomination.

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Third prize goes to this wintery wolf!  This wolf sequence is from an Iron County camera and was taken in March 2017.  Original #SuperSnap nomination by @SteveMeurett.

See the full results in this talk board post!

 

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Winter Camera Checks

While up north recently, the Snapshot Wisconsin Team had the opportunity to go out and check cameras in the Flambeau River elk monitoring grid. The weather was a balmy 27 °F, and the fresh air was much needed after long hours of travel. We split up into two groups of two, and headed out in separate directions to check cameras in different areas of the grid. Flambeau River State Park is a known dead zone for cell service, so we chose a time to reconvene before we split up. Both teams took two full hours longer than expected to complete their camera checks – which at least brought us back to the van at the same time! During the morning adventures, the team was reminded of some of the challenges unique to winter camera checks:

 

Waterproof boots will always be your friend. Melted snow, recent rainfall, or areas that are naturally wet may “dampen” your overall camera checking experience. If you have a pair of waterproof boots, or thick socks, you may want to consider bringing these along! Soggy shoes are never fun, especially in below freezing temperatures.

Tall waterproof boots (or waders) will always be your friend. No matter how waterproof your boots may be, they will only protect you for as high up as they cover. Also, what appears to be a puddle may actually be more like a miniature lake.

If you have a padlock for your camera, it may be frozen. If moisture gets inside the padlock and freezes, spinning the numbers can be difficult or impossible with fingers alone. To be on the safe side, bring an appropriate tool along to help thaw your padlock such as lock deicer, windshield deicer, or hand warmers.

Budget your time appropriately. Even if you think that your hike to your camera will only take thirty minutes, budget some wiggle room for inclement conditions. If you know you won’t have cell phone service in the woods, tell a friend or family member of your plans – this may include where you are parking your car, your intended route, what time you expect to be back, and what time to take further measures if you don’t return by. It’s easy to underestimate how long a camera check may take if you are comparing to previous checks during nicer weather.

Double check your GPS coordinates. Sometimes your phone and your personal GPS will tell you to go opposite directions, and you will find yourself circling around a swamp for thirty minutes. Sometimes it may be a technological glitch, but likely it will be human error. It never hurts to double check your GPS coordinates before venturing into the woods, especially if you know you won’t have good cell phone service, and especially if it’s cold outside.

Getting outside to check cameras was an overall great experience – and makes us even more appreciative of our volunteers and all their efforts they put forth for the project. Whether classifying photos online or hosting trail cameras, we couldn’t do this without all of you! Thank you!

Volunteer Recognition Events

It has now been a year and a half since Snapshot Wisconsin launched to the public in the first two counties, Iowa and Sawyer County! To commemorate the wonderful volunteers who have been with us since the beginning, the Snapshot Wisconsin team recently traveled to Dodgeville and Hayward to hold our very first volunteer recognition events.

The evenings included locally catered dinners, a presentation about project updates and scientific findings, as well as certificates and a prize basket drawing. It was great to reunite with volunteers that we haven’t seen since trainings, and to have face to face contact with those who are used to hearing from us solely by phone or email.

Overall it was a wonderful experience, and something that we look forward to putting together again in the future. We hope all who attended enjoyed their evening, and as always we welcome any and all feedback!

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Translating images into maps…

As many volunteers know, one of the primary purposes of Snapshot Wisconsin is to get a better handle on where species are located throughout the state. We now have enough pictures classified (and a reasonable handle on the effects of error within the classification process) to be able to start the process.

The essence of this exercise is to model associations between 1) locations where animals are and are not found on trail cameras, and 2) environmental or spatial characteristics at those camera locations. As noted in a previous blog post, in order to effectively map predictions about animal distribution, we need to have spatially explicit environmental variables, many of which are derived from satellite imagery. Examples of environmental variables include land cover, seasonal patterns in plant productivity/greenness, snow cover, and the intensity of night-lighting, which is a good index for human activity.

Mapping

Below are a collection of maps resulting from our first attempt at mapping statewide species distributions based on Snapshot Wisconsin data.

A couple things to note:

  1. How we think about commonness or rarity depends on the species being considered. For example, “less common” for turkey may mean an area is visited by only a few turkeys over a couple weeks, while “less common” for bear may mean that the area has not had a bear visit for a year or more.
  2. There are some imperfections. In particular, the tip of the Bayfield peninsula tends to exhibit some patterns that are probably wrong. Mapping will continue to be an iterative process based on our best metrics.

The below maps are accurate enough to be useful, but there’s always room for improvement. We hope that volunteers find this first round of analysis interesting, and maybe even useful for classifying.

November #SuperSnap

With Season 6 in full swing, it has been a tough decision choosing this month’s #SuperSnap! Thank you to @momsabina for nominating this playful fawn series from Manitowoc County. With frigid temperatures on the horizon, we couldn’t help but throw it back to sunny springtime days!

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Check out all the nominations by searching “#SuperSnap” in Talk (most recent photos will appear on the last page!) Continue hashtagging your favorite photos for a chance to be featured in the next #SuperSnap blog post.