Archive by Author | Vivek M

June #SuperSnap

This month’s #SuperSnap features a mink from Waupaca county, stepping into ice cold water. Mink are amazing swimmers and divers. Even in the winter, you ask? Yes, thanks to insulation from a thick underfur & oily hair, minks maintain their aquatic lifestyle year round, although less so when it’s cold.

Thanks @Tjper for nominating this sequence!

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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.

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Top 10 Reasons to Host a Snapshot Wisconsin Trail Camera

Rumor has it that summer is around the corner, which is the perfect time to sign up for a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera! Do you have access to public land or a private property at least 10 acres in size? A computer with internet? The ability to participate for a least a year? If you answered yes to these questions, congrats – you are already qualified! If you are thinking “But why should I apply?”, here are 10 commonly quoted reasons by our volunteers and project staff:

1. It’s free!

We provide all necessary equipment (including a Bushnell camera), training, technical support and replacements at NO cost! No previous experience is required, we are happy to teach you!

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2. Use your trail camera see up close pictures of wildlife.

Feed your curiosity and learn what is on your property and public lands.

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3. Hosting a trail camera is a great excuse to get out into the woods.

And we’ll remind you to check your camera every three months. That way you’ll head outdoors in all seasons and be on track with the program.

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4. Contribute to wildlife monitoring.

Photos collected through Snapshot Wisconsin are turned into important data used for supporting wildlife management decisions at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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5. Interact with the researchers.

Volunteers interact with the Snapshot Wisconsin research team at various outreach events, both in person and online. We also visit various groups across the state talking about the project and are available for questions on call or email.

6. Be in the know – get regular updates on data collected.

The research team provides regular updates aimed at volunteers – our monthly e-newsletter and blog are chock full of interesting information.

7. Socialize with other volunteers.

Our volunteers meet other citizen science enthusiasts at trainings, outreach and volunteer appreciation events. Discussions at these events can range from how the last hunting season went to secret birding locations, Packer football and so on.

Apart from the events, our Zooniverse forum allows you to interact with more 6500 volunteers from across the globe with the one thing that binds them all – interest in Wisconsin’s charismatic wildlife through the lens of a trail camera.

8. Improve your wildlife identification skills.

We provide a web-interface MySnapshot for volunteers to classify and view their pictures. Our Zooniverse forum is also a way to classify the pictures from across the state.

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 9. Educational outlet for students or nature center visitors.

Hundreds of educators participate in Snapshot Wisconsin. Snapshot Wisconsin is a great avenue to take your class outdoors and to bring the outdoors back into the classroom. Many nature centers also participate in Snapshot Wisconsin and are a great outlet for information on Wisconsin’s wildlife.

10. Provides an opportunity to bridge nature and technology.

Snapshot Wisconsin provides a great opportunity to bridge nature and technology. Trail cameras are non-invasive and providing a wealth of data about the secretive critters of Wisconsin. It’s a great technology for the good, connecting people and nature.

Convinced yet? Signup here: www.SnapshotWISignup.org!
Do you have a few more questions? Contact us at DNRSnapshotWisconsin@Wisconsin.org

 

 

November #SuperSnap

This month’s #SuperSnap features a raccoon from Racine County nominated by our Zooniverse volunteer @AUK. This sequence shows what appears to be an attempt at foraging for food. A commonly known raccoon behavior is dousing or dabbling food in water. This behavior also gives the species its name Procyon lotor aka “the washer”. All these seemingly complex tasks are possible thanks to their highly dexterous fore paws.

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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.

First Rare Species Sighting: Moose

One of the objectives of Snapshot Wisconsin is to record the occurrence of rare species including: moose, cougar, Canada lynx, marten, jackrabbit, Whooping crane, Spotted skunk, and wolverine. With a statewide network of nearly 1,300 trail cameras, sooner or later we were bound to capture one of these rare Wisconsin species. Two years into the project, Snapshot Wisconsin captured its first  – moose (Alces alces)!

Oneida County moose

Earlier this month, we received an email from a volunteer in Oneida county with the subject ‘Picture of Moose.’ We nearly jumped out of our seats exclaiming “Moose! Moose! Moose!”

From the size and proportions of the animal, it was easy to tell that it was indeed moose.  Moose can reach upwards of 1,500 pounds and stand up to 7 feet tall, dwarfing our commonly seen White-tailed deer. When we shared the picture around, our Wildlife Research team leader remarked, “That part of the state is definitely moose-y.” The bogs of Oneida, Vilas, and Iron counties have had the most moose sightings in the recent years, making “moose-y” an apt description.

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Vilas County moose captured on a Snapshot Wisconsin camera

Upon querying our Snapshot Wisconsin database, we found another moose identified on a camera in Vilas county – this one hosted by an educator. Both of these sightings were from spring this year, and both were correctly identified by the volunteer – hurray, no ‘moose-takes’ there!

Moose are categorized as a species of special concern in Wisconsin due to their relatively low numbers, in 2016 there were only 32 possible or probable observations reported.

Whether you are a Zooniverse volunteer or a trail camera host, please let us know if you see a rare species in a Snapshot Wisconsin photo. If you spot them in the wild or on a personal trail camera, report the observation using the Wisconsin large mammal observation form. In the meantime, we hope you finding these pictures as ‘a-moos-ing’ as we do!

Snap-a-thons

What is a Snap-a-thon you may ask? Take a guess from one of three options below.

  1. A wildlife photography marathon.
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Source: Bored Panda

  1. A classification party with the Snapshot Wisconsin project.

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  1. A marathon for snapping turtles.
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Source: A.B. Sheldon, WDNR

 

If you selected option 2, you are right!

If you read our newsletter or visit our website often, you will notice that the Snapshot Wisconsin project generates a lot of data. We have collected nearly 21 million photos so far. These photos become useful to support wildlife management decisions only when they have a classification tag attached to them and their accuracy is reliable. We have help on hand – more than a thousand trail camera hosts and nearly six thousand Zooniverse volunteers helping us classify these pictures. The idea behind a Snap-a-thon is to spread the word about the project even farther while running a fun competition using the Zooniverse website.

How a Snap-a-thon works is very simple: participants team up or play alone to classify pictures on Snapshot Wisconsin’s Zooniverse page for a set amount of time, typically 20 minutes. Each team is given a checklist of species. During the competition, participants tick off any of the listed species that they see and classify correctly. For uncommon or difficult-to-classify species, participants must raise their hands to get verification from the project team before their classifications are counted. Uncommon species or uncommon occurrences (like multiple species seen together in a photo sequence) also earn participants a higher score. In the end, we tally up the scores and declare a winner. So far, we’ve had 4 such contests and our contestants want to keep classifying even after the time is up. So, it’s pretty addictive!

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Snap-a-thon checklist

 

Pictures from previous Snap-a-thons:

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Snap-a-thon at UW-Madison

 

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Snap-a-thon at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin

 

If you’d like to host your own Snap-a-thon, drop us an email at DNRSnapshotWisconsin@wisconsin.gov and we’ll provide you with resources!

February #SuperSnap

It’s time to pick #SuperSnap for the shortest month of the year! This month’s sequence was shared by @Mitch56 and nominated by @cjpope. A beautiful wolf from Sawyer county which appears to be showing it’s funny side!

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Funny animals have their own awards, check out: https://www.comedywildlifephoto.com/. Pardon us for anthropomorphizing!

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.

Vivek’s citizen science and camera trapping experiences

In this post, I’ll be talking a little bit about my experiences with citizen science and camera trapping projects prior to joining Snapshot Wisconsin.

Before I decided to become a wildlife conservation professional, I was involved with citizen science projects as a volunteer. I found pleasure in natural history, making observations and collecting data for scientists. This was my contribution to saving the world, I thought! As a volunteer, I have done large mammal surveys in India, from counting tiger prey species to collecting carnivore scat. I learned a lot from participating in these projects. More than anything else, I think they provided a welcome distraction from my day job as a software programmer *chuckle*.

Here’s a misty morning scene from Nagarhole National Park, while I waited for the survey start time of 6 am.

I was also involved with conservation groups in the Western Ghats landscape of India. One project I am proud of being associated with is the Bisle Frog Watch. Every year citizen scientists congregate at Bisle (a tiny village in the Western Ghats) to learn about amphibian ecology and identify them in the wild under the guidance of researchers. What is heartening is that over a period of 6 years, we have made a checklist of 36 species of amphibians!

A night time frog watching field visit in progress.

A regular feature of our frog watch: a winged gliding frog( Rhacophorus lateralis) perched on a rock.

Apart from mammals and amphibians, I also love bird watching and regularly submit my bird lists to eBird.

A whimbrel from the Western coast of India.

Some of these experiences with citizen science gave me the confidence that I too can do scientific research. And, that’s also how I decided to pursue a Master’s degree.

Talking about my camera trapping experiences, I worked on a trail camera survey in Ecuador for my Master’s capstone project. I worked with an Ecuador based non-profit called Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation. We set up a total of 16 camera traps on several private properties and nature reserves in the Manabi province of coastal Ecuador.

Whereas the most common species in Snapshot Wisconsin is the white-tailed deer, in my project in Ecuador it was the agouti. (Although white-tailed deer have been recorded in the study site in Ecuador, they are uncommon in those parts of the world.) Whereas in Snapshot Wisconsin we see bobcats, in Ecuador we frequently recorded wild cats like ocelot, margay and jaguarundi.

In fact, I am even leaving an identification challenge for some pictures from Ecuador. Feel free to leave your guesses( along with the picture number) in the comments below. I shall post the answers soon-ish!

Jaguarundi

Picture #1

Margay

Picture #2

Ocelot

Picture #3

Tayra

Picture #4

All in all, it is exciting to be working on the Snapshot Wisconsin project – with the many citizen scientists who host camera traps across Wisconsin and many others from around the world classifying pictures – knowing we have something in common.

 

Picture credits: Frog watch pictures – Deepika Prasad; Camera trap pictures from Ecuador – Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation.