The elk rut peaks mid-September to mid-October. A Wisconsin resident recently caught an amazing video of bull elk getting rowdy in preparation, which you can see if you visit this link.
Our trail camera hosts in the elk reintroduction areas – Black River Falls, Clam Lake and Flambeau River State Forest – have been checking their cameras and uploading photos. We rely on these camera checks to gather data on how the elk are doing in Wisconsin and to get great photos to share!
Bugle Days is an annual tradition held in Clam Lake Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Snapshot Wisconsin was invited to participate this year in order to share some info about our elk monitoring project, recognize current volunteers, and recruit some new volunteers.
Bugle Days presented a great opportunity to see some of our volunteers who we haven’t seen since training, and also to get out in the field during the day and check some cameras. We ended each evening with a slide show of Snapshot Wisconsin images accompanied by a campfire.
We are currently looking for more trail camera hosts in each elk range area. These cameras are set up on public land so all volunteers need to participate is transportation to the camera areas, a handheld GPS device, and a healthy sense of adventure! To find out more information about the elk monitoring opportunity send an email to DNRSnapshotWisconsin@Wisconsin.gov with the subject line “Elk Monitoring”.
Last week we traveled to western Iowa County to help lead a Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin field trip showcasing one of our very first camera sites. Most Snapshot Wisconsin cameras are located in wooded areas, but this one is in a restored prairie/wetland. Over the last year this site has captured some incredible photos of birds, including spotted sand piper, sand hill cranes and great blue heron. We were thrilled that the landowner was willing to host and help lead the field trip, and it was a wonderful treat to spend the afternoon outside in such beautiful surroundings.
According to the landowner, the property was used for conventional agricultural up until 8 years ago when he began converting it to prairie. There is also a trout stream running through the property which has benefited from funding and restoration work by Trout Unlimited.
We were fortunate to have Darcy Kind along to help lead the trip. Darcy works for WDNR as a Conservation Biologist for the Landowner Incentive Program, which helps private landowners create and manage habitat for rare or declining species. Darcy has extensive knowledge of native plants and worked with this landowner on restoration projects throughout the 240 acre property.
Prescribed fire has played a key role in clearing brush and encouraging the growth of native plants on the property. Most of the native plant species we saw were not planted, but emerged from the existing seed bank that remained in the soil through decades of agriculture! During the trip we saw rare Hill’s thistle, four species of milkweed, Goat’s rue, lead plant, and many more native forbs and grasses. We also saw red and white oaks thriving in a restored oak savanna, and red headed woodpeckers which nest in at least two places on the property.
Thanks to Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin for providing the opportunity for us to share this beautiful property and promote Snapshot Wisconsin! Anyone who lives in or near Wisconsin should check out their upcoming field trips.
We hope to lead this trip or a similar trip next year. Subscribe to our e-newsletter to receive this announcement and other updates from Snapshot Wisconsin.
The Snapshot Wisconsin team was in Milwaukee the last few days attending the Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Chapter of The Wildlife Society.
This event was a great opportunity to learn about research being done throughout Wisconsin as well as other parts of the world. We attended talks about new methods to estimate deer recruitment in Wisconsin; carnivore detection and abundance in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; climbing behavior of Gray Fox; and the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Network just to name a few. We are hoping to be able to have some guest posts on the blog about other camera trap research projects in the future.
John gave a presentation entitled “Validation of crowd-sourced trail camera image classifications” which had some great information about classification accuracy of Zooniverse volunteers as compared to expert classifications. Christina’s presentation was “Snapshot Wisconsin: Updates from our first year of volunteer-based wildlife monitoring with trail cameras”. Susan focused on the elk monitoring project with a presentation called “Using Cameras and Volunteers to Monitor Elk Reintroduction in Wisconsin”.
The conference was also a great opportunity to socialize with colleagues from other parts of Wisconsin and see a bit of downtown Milwaukee.
Season 1 and Season 2 of Snapshot Wisconsin feature images from our elk trail camera networks near Black River Falls and Clam Lake, Wisconsin. These cameras were setup and have been monitored over the last year by WDNR staff as well as partners such as Jackson County Forest and Parks and Ho-Chunk Nation DNR. Recently the majority of these cameras were transitioned to volunteers for future monitoring. Our project staff enjoyed the opportunity to get out in the field when the cameras needed to be checked but having the cameras managed by volunteers will allow the cameras to be checked more consistently.
Future seasons of Snapshot Wisconsin will feature images from trail cameras setup and monitored by volunteers on their own land across the state. Anyone in Wisconsin with access to private land can sign up to host trail cameras to capture images of wildlife that may be present on their property. The only requirements for trail camera hosts are that they have access to at least 10 acres of contiguous private land, and agree to maintain a trail camera on that land for at least one year.
Training is provided for the trail camera hosts by Snapshot Wisconsin project staff either in person in the county where they live or via online instructional videos. During training the volunteers learn about the goals of Snapshot Wisconsin, how our data will compliment other monitoring efforts across the state and support wildlife management decisions. The volunteers will have their own MySnapshot account which is the portal used by trail camera volunteers for uploading, viewing and classifying their photos. We only require trail camera volunteers to review their photos in order to remove any photos of humans that may have been missed by our automated human detection process. The volunteers may view and classify the remainder of their photos within MySnapshot if they choose.
Iowa County Training Session – photo credit Wisconsin DNR
Equipment including the trail camera, rechargeable batteries, battery charger, SD cards and mounting unit are provided. Trail camera hosts need to have a computer with reliable access to the internet and a smart phone or hand-held GPS device for capturing camera location coordinates. Along with retrieving the SD cards and replacing the batteries 4 times per year we also ask that volunteers clear the vegetation from a 10-15 foot area in front of their camera. We have been continually working on reducing the number of blank photos that we have to manage and removing vegetation is an important step.
Enrollment for trail camera hosts is open state wide for educators and tribal affiliates on tribal land, while general enrollment for volunteers on private land is open in Iowa and Sawyer counties. Four additional counties will follow by the end of this year, with the rest of Wisconsin to enroll over the next few years. Those who are interested in hosting a camera on private land in counties that are not open yet are encouraged to apply and they will be notified when enrollment opens in that county. When it is fully rolled out across Wisconsin, Snapshot Wisconsin will be the largest citizen science project in the state.
Trail camera hosts began putting their cameras out this spring and have been calling and emailing Snapshot Wisconsin staff to excitedly report the animals they have been seeing on their cameras. One volunteer said this about seeing a coyote: “I wanted to get a coyote and we finally got one! I have never seen one here so that was very exciting for me personally”.
Visit the Snapshot Wisconsin webpage on the WDNR website for complete details and to sign up for the Snapshot Wisconsin e-newsletter.